Compensation for Crime Victims in Singapore: How to Obtain

Last updated on September 7, 2020

woman sitting on sofa

Victims of offences may wonder if they can be compensated for the harm that has been caused to them by the offender in question. This concern is especially relevant when suing the offender for compensation is not a financially viable option.

Furthermore, depending on the duration of the trial, it might be a long time before the victim can receive damages for the harm that has been caused.

Such a concern might be put at ease by the court making a compensation order under section 359 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC). 

This article will cover:

What is a Compensation Order?

If a person has been convicted of an offence, the court may order for that offender to pay compensation to the victim if the court finds it appropriate to do so.

Such a compensation order is meant to allow you or your representative to recover compensation without having to sue for such compensation, especially if suing might be an inadequate or impractical course of action. 

If granted, the compensation order will be made in addition to the offender’s existing sentence (such as a jail term and/or a fine).

When Would a Compensation Order be Made?

The court would make a compensation order only if it is appropriate to do so.

This could be where:

Where the compensation amount is easily determinable

The court is more likely to make a compensation order if the amount of compensation to be ordered is easily determinable.

For example, a victim suffers hurt due to not only the actions of the offender, but possibly also due to a number of other reasons. In this case, the amount of compensation to be ordered may be more difficult to determine.

The court will need to do a detailed analysis of the extent of the hurt caused by the offender to decide how much compensation the offender should pay. As a result, the court may choose not to make a compensation order.

Where suing the offender is not a more appropriate remedy 

The court must also be satisfied that suing the offender for compensation will not be a more appropriate remedy before it makes such a compensation order. Such instances include where:

In that regard, cases that are more appropriately dealt with via a lawsuit include traffic accident matters where insurable losses need to be quantified, or where the Motor Insurers’ Bureau may step in to provide compensation. 

Where the compensation order will not cause undue hardship on the offender

At the same time, the court will only make an order for a compensation order if it is not oppressive to the offender. The court must be satisfied that the offender will have the means to pay the compensation to you within a reasonable time.

For example, in the case of PP v Natarajan Baskaran and Venkatachalam Thirumurugan, the court decided against ordering the offender to pay compensation to the victim as the offender would not have been able to afford to do so. 

How the Compensation Would be Quantified? 

The amount of compensation will be determined based on what will be enough to compensate the victim for the losses suffered.

For example, if you incurred medical bills due to injuries caused by the offender, the compensation amount may be the full amount of such bills.

It is also important to note that the amount of compensation ordered will not exceed what would be reasonably obtainable in a lawsuit.

The severity of the offence will also not affect the amount of compensation ordered.

Examples where victims have been compensated 

The following are examples of when the court found it appropriate to make a compensation order.

  • Domestic abuse of maids. Generally, the court would find it appropriate to order a compensation order where a maid has been a victim of abuse. The victim may receive compensation for:
    • Pain and suffering;
    • Medical expenses;
    • Loss or damage to the victim’s property; and
    • Prospective earnings
  • Cheating. For example, the court has previously ordered a company director to pay compensation to two primary schools after he cheated their principals into awarding his company bus service contracts that it was unable to fulfil. As a result, the schools had to engage alternative bus services, incurring losses that the company director was ordered to compensate for. 
  • Rape. In one rape case, the court ordered the offender to make compensation for the costs of the victim’s psychotherapy treatment to help her cope with the psychological and emotional effects of the sexual assault. 
  • When hurt was caused to the victim. In one case, the offender, Loo Yue Liang, punched the victim, causing mild inflammation and swelling on his nose and right cheek. The victim also fell to the ground, resulting in him suffering abrasions on his left elbow. In deciding the amount for the compensation order, the court considered the following factors:
    • Medical bill incurred due to the injuries caused by the offender;
    • Evidence of loss of income resulting from the injury;
    • Evidence of loss of income resulting from the victim having to take medical leave; and
    • Compensation for pain and suffering
  • Theft. In a theft case, the offender, Seah Kim Hock, stole $1,100 from the victim. The court found that it was appropriate to make a compensation order as it would not have been financially viable for the victim to sue Seah for the stolen money. Further, there was a clear link between the loss suffered by the victim for which the compensation was sought, and the offences committed by Seah. 

How the Compensation Will be Paid 

Should the court order the offender to pay you compensation, it may be paid through:

  • Instalments
  • A seizure and sale of any property that the offender might own, with the sale proceeds going to you
  • Appointing a receiver to take possession and sell any property owned by the offender, with the sale proceeds going to you
  • Searching the offender and giving you any money found on him, up to the full amount of compensation

Consequences of Non-Payment of Compensation by the Offender

Subject to the court’s discretion, non-payment of compensation could result in the offender being imprisoned. This duration of imprisonment will be decided by the court. 

What If the Compensation Received is Insufficient?   

Ideally, compensation orders made by the court should be sufficient to cover the different categories of claim that you are claiming for, such as medical bills and loss of income. Nonetheless, should the compensation sum be insufficient, you may still be able to seek recourse in a civil lawsuit.

It is however important to note that this claim for the same injury under a civil lawsuit cannot include the amount that has already been paid under the compensation order. 

Thus, the amount that the offender would have to pay will be calculated as follows:

Amount that the offender has to pay = [Amount the court orders in a civil lawsuit] – [Amount that the offender has already paid under the criminal compensation order]

What If the Court Decides Not to Order Compensation?     

As mentioned above, the court has the discretion to decide whether to order compensation, which means that victims are not guaranteed compensation.

However, if you are a victim of assault, you may still be able to claim compensation under the Community Justice Centre’s Victim Assistance Scheme (VAS) if the court decides not to order compensation for your case. 

The amount of compensation is meant to cover losses you have suffered from the incident, such as medical expenses and loss of income, and is capped at $1,000.

Who can apply for the VAS

You may apply for the VAS if all of the following requirements are met:

  • The offence took place in Singapore;
  • The offender is convicted of:
    • Voluntarily causing hurt;
    • Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means;
    • Voluntarily causing grievous hurt;
    • Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means;
    • Voluntarily causing hurt to extort property or to constrain to an illegal act; and/or
    • Causing hurt by means of poison etc., with intent to commit an offence
  • You are unable to seek any compensation from the offender for the injuries you have sustained

How to apply for the VAS

The application for the scheme can be made through the Investigating Officer of the case by:

  • You, the primary victim who has suffered direct physical or emotional harm or death as a result of a crime (provided you are over the age of 18);
  • Your parent or legal guardian if you are a minor; or
  • The spouse or an adult dependant of a deceased victim

Additionally, you should also keep all original receipts regarding any expenses that you are seeking to claim under this scheme. This is because the Community Justice Centre accepts only original receipts when deciding whether to allow your claim, and how much compensation to grant.

As crime victims are not guaranteed compensation for harm caused by offenders, it is best to seek professional advice from a lawyer on this issue if you find yourself seeking criminal compensation from an offender.

A lawyer will be able to advise you on whether obtaining criminal compensation is a possible option for the losses you have suffered, and if not, whether applying for the VAS or pursuing a civil lawsuit are more viable alternatives.

Furthermore, the lawyer would also be able to advise you on the types of evidence that you may need to be adduce for the purposes of obtaining compensation from the offender.

You can get in touch with experienced criminal lawyers here.

Arrest and Investigation
  1. Police Investigation Process in Singapore
  2. Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
  3. Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
  4. Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
  5. What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
  6. Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
  7. What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
  8. "Right to Remain Silent" to Singapore Police: Does It Exist?
  9. Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
  10. Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
  11. Is Lying to the Police or Authorities an Offence in Singapore?
  12. Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  13. Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
  14. Extradition: What If I Flee After Committing Crime in Singapore
Bail
  1. The Essential Guide to Bail and Personal Bonds in Singapore
Prosecution
  1. What is Private Prosecution?
  2. Magistrate’s Complaints, Private Summons and Private Prosecutions in Singapore
  3. Prosecutorial Discretion in Singapore
  4. Compounding or Composition of Offences in Singapore
  5. Plea Bargaining in Singapore: All You Need to Know
During Criminal Proceedings
  1. Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
  2. Claiming Trial as an Accused
  3. Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
  4. The Defence of Unsound Mind in Singapore: What is It?
  5. Gag Orders in Singapore: Whose Identity Can be Protected?
  6. Mitigation Plea: How to Plead for Leniency in Court in Singapore
After Criminal Proceedings
  1. Guide to Filing a Criminal Appeal in Singapore
  2. Criminal Motion: What is It and How to File One in Singapore
  3. Guide to Filing a Criminal Revision in Singapore
  4. Presidential Clemency in Singapore
  5. Repatriation or Deportation from Singapore: How Does It Work?
  6. Criminal Records in Singapore
  7. Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore
  8. Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
Types of Sentences After Committing an Offence
  1. Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
  2. Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
  3. How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
  4. Reformative Training in Singapore: When Will It be Ordered?
  5. Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
  6. Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
  7. 7 Detention Orders in Singapore: When Will They be Ordered?
  8. Day Reporting Order: Eligibility and Offender's Obligations
Being a Victim
  1. Using Your Right to Self-Defence When Attacked in Singapore
  2. Compensation for Crime Victims in Singapore: How to Obtain
Offences Against the Human Body
  1. Voluntarily Causing Hurt Penalties in Singapore (Non-Arrestable)
  2. Murder vs Culpable Homicide in Singapore (and Penalties)
  3. Is Suicide Illegal in Singapore? Will I Be Punished for Trying?
  4. Kidnapping Scam: Penalties & Responding to a ‘Kidnap Call/Text'
Sexual Offences
  1. Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
  2. Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
  3. Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
  4. What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
  5. What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
  6. Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?
  7. Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore (Penalties and Defences)
  8. Date Rape: What to Do If Your Drink Has Been Unlawfully Spiked?
  9. STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?
Vice-Related Offences
  1. Singapore's Legal Smoking Age & Common Smoking Offences
  2. Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
  3. Legal Drinking Age and Drinking-Related Laws in Singapore
  4. Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
  5. Child Pornography in Singapore: Offences and Penalties
  6. Is it illegal to visit prostitutes in Singapore?
  7. Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
  8. Gambling Legally (In Public or Online) in Singapore
  9. The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
Cybercrime
  1. Penalties for Cheating/Scamming and What Victims Can Do
  2. Penalties for Impersonating Someone and Victim Redress
  3. Singapore Fake News Laws: Guide to POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)
  4. Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore (With Examples)
White-Collar Crimes
  1. Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) in Singapore: What is It?
  2. All You Need to Know About Corruption in Singapore
  3. Anti-Money Laundering Laws and You
  4. 5 Things You Need to Know about Insider Trading
  5. Dishonest assistance and knowing receipt - The case of David Rasif
Road Offences
  1. Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
  2. DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
  3. What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
  4. Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
  5. Penalties for Dangerous Driving for Singapore Drivers
  6. Fatal Traffic Accidents: Are Drivers Always Punished?
  7. Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
  8. Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
Animal-Related Offences
  1. Is it illegal to feed stray animals in Singapore?
  2. Singapore Animal Abuse Offences, Penalties & How to Report
Offences Relating to Public Peace and Good Order
  1. Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore: Police Permits and the Public Order Act
  2. Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
  3. Racial Enmity: Sections 298 and 298A Penal Code Explained
  4. Religious Cults in Singapore: Are they Illegal? Penalties & More
  5. Penalties for Financing Terrorist Operations in Singapore
Certificate of Clearance
  1. How Do You Apply for a Certificate of Clearance in Singapore?
Other Criminal Offences
  1. Here are the Penalties for Committing Forgery in Singapore
  2. Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
  3. Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore