How to File an Originating Claim in a Singapore Lawsuit

Last updated on June 10, 2022

lawyer talking about documents on table

If you are planning to commence civil proceedings in Singapore, you will need to file either an originating claim (previously known as a “writ of summons”) or an originating application. This article will explain the process of filing an originating claim under the Rules of Court 2021. It will cover:

What is an Originating Claim?

An originating claim is one of the two examples of originating processes through which you can start a civil claim in Singapore.

The originating claim is a formal document addressed to the individual against whom the civil claim is sought (the “defendant”). It is usually filed by you, the claimant (previously known as the “plaintiff”) or your lawyer. The originating claim serves to notify the defendant that you have commenced legal proceedings against them.

When is an Originating Claim Filed?

An originating claim must be filed when the material facts of the civil claim are in dispute. In contrast, an originating application is filed if it is required under any written law or if the claim concerns a matter of law where there are no disputes over the material facts. 

Material facts refer to facts that are necessary to formulate a complete cause of action so that the opposing party is informed of the case against which it is defending. The material facts would not be in dispute where the proceedings concern the interpretation and application of any written law, instrument or document. On the other hand, a dispute over the material facts would arise where, for example, it is important to determine what the terms of an agreement between the parties entailed.

How Do You Prepare an Originating Claim?

There are two ways in which the originating claim may be prepared:

For normal civil processes For simplified civil processes
The document for originating claims in a normal civil process must be drafted in the manner set out in Form 8. The document for originating claims in a simplified civil process must be drafted in the manner set out in Form 8. The simplified civil process is intended to facilitate the fair, quick and inexpensive resolution of disputes for the following cases:

  • Civil cases heard in the Magistrate’s Court: Where the claim amount does not exceed $60,000 
  • Civil cases heard in the District Court: Where all parties involved file their consent in accordance with Form 3
  • The District Court hears civil cases for claims between $60,000 and $250,000, or up to $500,000 for road traffic accident claims or personal injury claims arising from industrial accidents

Information to be included in the originating claim 

As set out in the relevant forms, the originating claim should include:

  • The names and identification numbers of the claimant and the defendant
  • The statement of claim. This is explained in greater detail later.
  • The options available to the defendant in response to the originating claim.

If the claim is for personal injuries, you must annex to the originating claim the relevant medical report(s) and a statement of the special damages claimed. Special damages refer to claims in respect of financial losses that have been directly incurred because of an accident. For instance, medical expenses to treat injuries, or costs to repair vehicles or personal items damaged from the accident in question may be compensated by special damages.

Statement of claim

A statement of claim is a written document containing the relevant facts establishing your claim and the relief or remedy that you are seeking from the defendant. The statement of claim should be filed using Form 9 and served with the originating claim. If you fail to file the statement of claim, the defendant may apply to the court for an order to dismiss your action.

How Do You File an Originating Claim in Singapore? 

You may file an originating claim personally or through your lawyer.

If you engage a lawyer, your lawyer will file the documents on your behalf through eLitigation, an online platform that can be accessed only by law firms. 

If you are filing the documents personally, you must do so by visiting one of the two LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureaus located in Singapore. There, you will be provided with the relevant forms for your application, which you must complete and submit in hardcopy. The Service Bureau will then use the information provided in the forms to prepare and file your application on your behalf through the eLitigation platform.

Cost of filing an originating claim

The fees involved in filing an originating claim depend on the court in which you are filing your claim.

Where no other fee is specified, the fees for commencing an originating claim are as follows:

Supreme Court For claims up to $1 million: $500

For claims exceeding $1 million: $1,000

State Courts District Court (for claims between $60,000 and $250,000 or up to $500,000 for road traffic or industrial accidents): $150

Magistrate’s Court (for claims up to $60,000): $100

For example, if X is seeking a claim against a defendant for the value of $600,000, X’s case would be heard by the Supreme Court and the fee payable for commencing the originating claim would be $500.

For more information on the filing fees for the Supreme Court, please refer to this page

For more information on the filing fees in the State Courts, refer to this page

Additionally, the fees for filing documents to the court using the electronic filing service, eLitigation, can be found here

Cost of filing a statement of claim

The fees for filing a statement of claim can be found here.

What Do You Do After Filing the Originating Claim? 

Once you have filed your originating claim, the relevant court will either accept or reject your claim. If your originating claim is accepted, a copy of the approved originating claim containing the relevant court’s seal and registrar’s signature will be issued to you through eLitigation.

The approved originating claim must then be collected from the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau by either you or your legal representative, and personally served on the defendant to notify the defendant of your claim.

Defendant is an individual person

Where the defendant is an individual person, personal service is effected by posting or leaving a copy of the document at the individual’s usual or last-known address or the business address of the defendant’s lawyer.

If the defendant does not reside in Singapore, the court may direct personal service to be effected on the defendant’s agent or manager. In this case, the agent or manager must have personal control or management over the defendant’s affairs within Singapore that specifically relate to the action at the time of service.

For example, a lawyer who has been appointed by the defendant to act on his behalf in relation to all legal matters arising within Singapore would be regarded as the defendant’s agent.

Defendant is an entity 

Where the defendant is an entity, personal service may be effected on the entity’s chairperson or president, or an officer such as its treasurer or secretary.

An entity refers to an organisation that is recognised by law as having legal rights and responsibilities such that it can sue and be sued against. Examples of such entities include companies, partnerships and unincorporated associations. Service on an entity may be done through posting or leaving a copy of the document to its registered or principal office, or to its last-known place of business or its solicitor’s address.

In the event that the defendant is an overseas entity, personal service may be effected on the defendant’s agent or manager in the same manner described for service on a local entity.

However, where the claimant is aware of the defendant’s overseas address, the claimant must send a copy of the court’s order authorising service of the documents to be served to the defendant’s overseas address. This must be done through prepaid registered post within 14 days after service on the defendant’s agent or manager.

What is the Deadline For Serving an Originating Claim?

If the originating claim is to be served on a defendant who is located in Singapore, the claimant must take reasonable steps to do so as soon as possible within 14 days after the court has approved the originating claim.

For service of the originating claim on a defendant outside of Singapore, the claimant must do so within 28 days after the issuance of the originating claim.

Can the deadline be extended?

An originating claim is valid for service for 3 months from its date of issue. This duration may be extended upon an application to the court if the originating claim has not been served on any or all of the defendants before or after it expires. The court may order the validity of the originating claim to be extended. The extension will take effect on the day after the original date of expiry of the originating claim.

Except in special cases, the court may extend the validity of the originating claim for a maximum of two times. Each extension is valid for a period of 3 additional months. Special cases may include instances where the court deems it necessary on the facts of the case to extend the deadline to ensure that justice is done or to prevent an abuse of the court’s processes.

What Happens After You’ve Served the Originating Claim on the Defendant? 

After you have served the originating claim on the defendant, the defendant will decide whether to contest the claim. The defendant must then file and serve a notice of intention to contest or not contest the claim (previously known as a “memorandum of appearance”) within:

  • 14 days after the statement of claim is served on them where it is served in Singapore
  • 21 days if they are served out of Singapore.

If the defendant fails to file and serve such a notice, you may apply for judgment to be given against the defendant. When applying for judgment to be given against the defendant, you must file a memorandum of service in Form 12.

Alternatively, you may apply for judgment in default where the defendant states that they do not intend to contest the claim. This is known as a judgment in default of a notice to contest or not contest and you may make the request in accordance with Form 11

The effect of a judgment in default is that the court will make a decision on the basis of the defendant’s failure to contest the claim within the prescribed time limits. The court will regard the claimant as having effectively succeeded in their claim and ordinarily grant the relief they are seeking.

For more information on the civil litigation process in Singapore, please see this article for a step-by-step guide on commencing a lawsuit in Singapore.

It is important to adhere to the deadlines and specifications for filing an originating claim. This is because failing to meet the deadlines or filing the documents incorrectly may result in the court rejecting your claim.

You should therefore consult a civil litigation lawyer who is familiar with the process of filing a civil claim in Singapore. Your lawyer will be able to assist you with the process of filing your originating claim and subsequently conducting your lawsuit.

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. What is a Breach of Confidence and How to Prove It
  2. How to File an Originating Claim in a Singapore Lawsuit
  3. How to Bring a Class-Action Lawsuit in Singapore
  4. Letters of Demand and Their Usages in Singapore
  5. Law on Writ of Summons in Singapore
  6. Received a "Without Prejudice" Letter? Here’s What It Means
  7. What if I Cannot Find the Party I Want to Sue?
  8. Making a Claim in the Small Claims Tribunals in Singapore
  9. First Meeting With Your Business Dispute Lawyer: What to Expect
  10. Negotiating a Settlement in a Business Dispute
  11. Security of Payment Act: Claiming Progress Payments for Construction Work Done
  12. Engaging a Queen’s Counsel in Singapore
The Litigation Process
  1. Can You Withdraw Your Court Case in Singapore?
  2. Civil Litigation: How to Sue in Singapore (Step-by-Step Guide)
  3. Originating Application: What It Is and How to File in Singapore
  4. Notice of Intention to Contest or Not Contest: What is It?
  5. Affidavits in Singapore: What Are They & How to Prepare One
  6. 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
  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