General Law

Small Claims Tribunal: Is It The Right Place For Your Case?

Written by Team Farallon | November 14, 2018

So you have a debt you would like to recover, or a dispute that needs to be settled, but are worried about high legal costs in Singapore.

Most people have the impression that for amounts below $20,000, the Small Claims Tribunal is the ideal place to get your case settled.

While you may save money on the legal fees by choosing to get your case heard in the SCT, we will explain later on why you should consult a lawyer before filing your claim.

A Brief Introduction To The Small Claims Tribunals

A component of the State Courts of Singapore, the Small Claims Tribunals were  created to provide a fast and inexpensive forum for the resolution of smaller disputes.

They are located at Level 1 of the State Courts in Singapore. (View in Google Maps)

What Kind Of Claims Does SCT Handle?

According to the State Courts website, these are the types of claims and disputes that the SCT can hear:

  1. Lease of industrial or commercial premises;
  2. License of any premises for any period of time;
  3. Claims for possession of the premises;
  4. Claims for reinstatement of orders; delivery orders, declaration of rights, reliefs against forfeiture.

6 Reasons To Consult A Lawyer Before Filing Your Claim

 

Your Lawyer Will Be Able To Acurately Assess Your Situation For You

The Small Claims Tribunal does NOT provide legal advice, it is tribunal that mediates for both parties involved. An experienced lawyer will be able to advise you on what are the best options for YOUR case before making the next move.

Advise You Which Documents Should Be Submitted And Ensure That You Have The Best Chance Possible For Success

The Small Claims process is very evidence based, and there is not much guidance. Your chances of winning your dispute is highly dependant on the evidence you provide while submitting your claim. Your lawyer will advise you on the evidence, such as important emails, contracts, documents, whatsapp messages, screenshots, photographs, etc, that you should prepare beforehand.

Formulate A Strategy For Your Claims Argument

When submitting your case, making sure your evidence is presented in a persuasive and comprehensible manner is very important. Your lawyer will be able to coach you on how to strike the right balance.

Are You Sure Your Claim Should Be Heard In Small Claims?

An experienced lawyer will be able to advise you on deeper issues within your dispute, such as loss of income, compromised business activities due to breach of contract, and many other important issues that you may have not thought of.

If You Win Your Case In Small Claims, Does That Mean You Automatically Get Your Money From The Losing Party?

Upon successfully proving your claim in the Small Claims Tribunal, the SCT will make an order in favour of the winning party. This will typically be a “money order” that will state how much the losing party has to pay. However, this does NOT ensure that the other party will pay, as Small Claims Tribunal does not enforce the Money Order.

Here are some of the enforcement options available:

Examination of judgement debtor

This allows you to question the other party in Court (under oath) to investigate if he has the means to pay your judgement debt. You can find out what bank accounts, properties your debtor has. In this case, it’s best to work with a debt recovery lawyer to save time, effort and money.

Letter of demand

One of the most common methods used, a letter of demand (with the assistance of a lawyer, if necessary) requiring payment to be made before a certain time. If the debtor still refuses to pay, and appears to possess sufficient assets of value, further enforcement proceedings may be taken. The most common enforcement method adopted is the writ of seizure and sale.

Writ of seizure and sale

A writ of seizure and sale authorises the bailiff to seize and sell property belonging to the judgment debtor to pay the judgment creditor.

Garnishee proceedings

Where a third party owes money to the judgment creditor, a garnishee proceeding can be taken out so that the garnishee must pay the money to the judgment creditor instead of the judgment debtor.

Conclusion

Settling a dispute can often be a long and painful process, which requires legal expertise and knowledge of the system. We strongly advise anyone who has a dispute to consult with a reputable law firm in Singapore before filing a claim with the Small Claims Tribunal.