Enforcement of Court Judgments and Orders in Singapore

Last updated on December 17, 2018

After winning a lawsuit in the Small Claims Tribunals (SCT), the Magistrate’s Court, District Court, High Court, or the Court of Appeal, the winning party (also known as the judgment creditor) has to enforce his court judgment or order in order to obtain the relief he is seeking against the judgment debtor. Otherwise, without taking action to conduct enforcement, the court judgment or order will not take effect.

This article briefly illustrates the different types of enforcement options available to a judgment creditor.

Preliminary Issues

Before embarking on formal enforcement, you will need to consider the following issues:

  1. Whether the judgment debtor is willing and able to pay;
  2. Where the assets of the judgment debtor are located; and
  3. Whether it is tactically advantageous to give time for the judgment debtor to pay, or to move quickly to prevent the dissipation of assets.

Small Claims Tribunals – Order of Tribunal

An order of tribunal obtained from the SCT ordering money payments to be made by the respondent (or judgment debtor) will generally be coupled with a deadline for payment. If the respondent does not pay, you will have to take up separate enforcement proceedings against him or her.

Letter of Demand

Prior to taking up enforcement proceedings, the judgment creditor should contact the judgment debtor or otherwise send a letter of demand (with the assistance of a lawyer, if necessary) requiring payment to be made before a certain time.

As for SCT actions, the respondent would already have access to the order of tribunal and the stipulated deadline for payment – in that case the judgment creditor should contact the judgment debtor to agree on a payment plan and an amicable resolution.

If the judgment creditor remains defiant or otherwise refuses to comply, and appears to possess sufficient assets of value, enforcement proceedings may be taken. The most common enforcement method adopted by most litigants is the issue of a writ of seizure and sale.

Writ of Seizure and Sale

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

Read our other article for more information on writs of seizure and sale in Singapore.

Writ of Delivery

A writ of delivery is a court order requiring the judgment debtor to deliver movable property to the judgment creditor.

Writ of Possession

A writ of possession is a court order usually served on a tenant by a landlord requiring the tenant to leave the premises by a certain time, enabling the landlord to repossess his property.

Examination of Judgment Debtor

An examination is a court order requiring the judgment debtor to attend before the court and be orally examined on whatever property he has and wheresoever situated, and the court may also order the judgment debtor to produce any books or documents in his possession that is relevant for the purposes of examination.

Garnishee Proceedings

Where a third-party owes money to the judgment debtor (such as an employer), a garnishee proceeding can be taken out so that the garnishee must pay the money to the judgment creditor instead of the judgment debtor.

Committal Order

Where the judgment debtor fails to obey a court order, the judgment creditor can apply to court to have the judgment debtor sanctioned with fine or imprisonment.

Foreign Enforcement

Where the judgement debtor has assets situated in a foreign jurisdiction, the judgment creditor, with the assistance of a legal professional, can enforce his judgment overseas, provided that the particular legal requirements of the foreign jurisdiction are satisfied.

Bankruptcy and Winding Up Applications

Where the judgment debtor cannot pay the debts owed, the judgment creditor can apply for bankruptcy or winding up proceedings against the debtor depending on whether the debtor is an individual or a company.

Before Making a Claim
  1. Drafting an Enforceable Settlement Agreement in Singapore
  2. Differences between Criminal Law and Civil Law
  3. Should You Sue? 8 Things to Think About Before Suing
  4. How to Write a Cease and Desist Letter in Singapore
  5. Limitation Periods: What's the Deadline for Suing in Singapore?
  6. What to Do If Someone Sues Your Singapore Business
  7. Arbitration and Mediation: When They Can be Useful for Business Disputes
  8. Can I Sue a Foreigner in Singapore?
  9. Mediation in Singapore
  10. Arbitration: When and How to Arbitrate Business Disputes in Singapore
  11. 6 Things You Need to Know about Third-Party Funding in International Arbitration
  12. Using Neutral Evaluation to Resolve Civil Disputes in Singapore
Making a Claim - The Beginning of a Dispute
  1. Letters of Demand and Their Usages in Singapore
  2. Law on Writ of Summons in Singapore
  3. Received a "Without Prejudice" Letter? Here’s What It Means
  4. What if I Cannot Find the Party I Want to Sue?
  5. Making a Claim in the Small Claims Tribunals in Singapore
  6. First Meeting With Your Business Dispute Lawyer: What to Expect
  7. Negotiating a Settlement in a Business Dispute
  8. Security of Payment Act: Claiming Progress Payments for Construction Work Done
  9. Engaging a Queen’s Counsel in Singapore
The Litigation Process
  1. Civil Litigation: How to Sue in Singapore (Step-by-Step Guide)
  2. Originating Summons: What It Is and How to File in Singapore
  3. Memorandum of Appearance in Singapore: What It is and How to File
  4. Affidavits in Singapore: What Are They & How to Prepare One
  5. Default Judgments and Summary Judgments in Singapore
Matters relating to Witnesses and Evidence
  1. Can My Minor Child be Subpoenaed to be a Court Witness?
  2. Admissibility of Evidence in the Singapore Courts
  3. Subpoenaed to be a Court Witness in Singapore: What You Need to Do
  4. Who is an Expert Witness and How to Use Expert Evidence in Singapore
  5. Destroying and Tampering With Evidence in Singapore
  6. Legal DNA Test: What is It For, How It’s Conducted, Cost & More
Remedies Available for Civil Litigation
  1. Types of Injunctions in Singapore
  2. Specific Performance: Obtaining this Equitable Remedy in Singapore
After the Lawsuit
  1. After the Lawsuit: Who Has to Pay Whom, and How Much?
  2. Enforcement of Court Judgments and Orders in Singapore
  3. How to Get a Writ of Seizure and Sale to Enforce a Judgment