Enforcement of Court Judgments and Orders in Singapore

Last updated on April 1, 2022

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.

Generally, to enforce a judgment, a judgment creditor has to take out a single application for one or more enforcement options.

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.

Enforcement Order for Seizure and Sale of Property

An enforcement order for seizure and sale of property (previously known as 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 an enforcement order for seizure and sale of property 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.

Enforcement Order for Possession of Property

An enforcement order for possession of property (previously known as 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.

Enforcement Proceedings for Attachment of a Debt

Where a third party owes money to the judgment debtor (such as an employer), an enforcement order for attachment of a debt (previously known as a “garnishee order”) can be taken out so that the third party pays 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. The court also has the power to punish the judgment debtor, without an application, if the debtor’s failure to obey a court order results in a charge of contempt of court.

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. Should I Make A Police Report or Should I Sue?
  3. Differences between Criminal Law and Civil Law
  4. Should You Sue? 8 Things to Think About Before Suing
  5. How to Write a Cease and Desist Letter in Singapore
  6. Limitation Periods: What's the Deadline for Suing in Singapore?
  7. What to Do If Someone Sues Your Singapore Business
  8. Arbitration and Mediation: When They Can be Useful for Business Disputes
  9. Can I Sue a Foreigner or Foreign Company in Singapore?
  10. Mediation in Singapore
  11. Arbitration: When and How to Arbitrate Business Disputes in Singapore
  12. Third-Party Funding for Litigation in Singapore
  13. Using Neutral Evaluation to Resolve Civil Disputes in Singapore
Making a Claim - The Beginning of a Dispute
  1. What is a Breach of Confidence and How to Prove It
  2. Victim of a Wire Fraud? Here’s What You Can Do
  3. How to File an Originating Claim in a Singapore Lawsuit
  4. How to Bring a Class-Action Lawsuit in Singapore
  5. Letters of Demand and Their Usages in Singapore
  6. Law on Writ of Summons in Singapore
  7. Received a "Without Prejudice" Letter? Here’s What It Means
  8. What if I Cannot Find the Party I Want to Sue?
  9. Filing a Claim with the Small Claims Tribunals in Singapore
  10. First Meeting With Your Business Dispute Lawyer: What to Expect
  11. Negotiating a Settlement in a Business Dispute
  12. Security of Payment Act: Claiming Progress Payments for Construction Work Done
  13. Engaging a Queen’s Counsel or King's Counsel in Singapore
The Litigation Process
  1. Can You Withdraw Your Court Case in Singapore?
  2. Wasting the Court’s Time and Resources: Legal Consequences
  3. Natural Justice Explained: Your Right to a Fair & Unbiased Hearing
  4. Civil Litigation: How to Sue in Singapore (Step-by-Step Guide)
  5. Originating Application: What It Is and How to File in Singapore
  6. Notice of Intention to Contest or Not Contest: What is It?
  7. Affidavits in Singapore: What Are They & How to Prepare One
  8. 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. Giving Evidence via Video Link in a Singapore Lawsuit
  3. Prima Facie: What Does It Mean and How to Establish
  4. Hearsay Evidence: Admissibility and Objection of It in Singapore
  5. Admissibility of Evidence in the Singapore Courts
  6. Subpoenaed to be a Court Witness in Singapore: What You Need to Do
  7. Who is an Expert Witness and How to Use Expert Evidence in Singapore
  8. Destroying and Tampering With Evidence in Singapore
  9. A Guide to Legal DNA Testing in Singapore
Remedies Available for Civil Litigation
  1. Types of Injunctions in Singapore
  2. Specific Performance: Obtaining this Equitable Remedy in Singapore
  3. Judicial Review in Singapore: What is It and How to Apply
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 an Order for Seizure and Sale to Enforce a Judgment