How Do I Make a Small Claim in the Small Claims Tribunals in Singapore?
To make a claim at the Small Claims Tribunals (SCT), you can either fax in the form or lodge a claim in person at the SCT. There will be a non-refundable lodgement fee that has to be paid to process your claim. Below are several features of the SCT taken from the Small Claims Tribunals Act.
Quantum of Dispute (i.e. Amount of Money You Can Claim for)
First of all, be mindful of the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunals. The SCT only hears disputes involving claims not exceeding $10,000.
However, if both parties give their consent, the SCT can hear claims not exceeding $20,000.
The Types of Disputes that the Small Claims Tribunals can Preside Over Include:
- Sale of goods – e.g. when you purchase a phone
- Provision of services – e.g. when you engage the services of a home designer
- Damage to your property
- Tenancy disputes for the lease of residential property not exceeding 2 years
- Contracts to buy or sell foreign currency with a licensed money-changer under the Money-changing and Remittance Business Act
- Cancellation of contracts under the Consumer Fair Trading (Cancellation of Contracts) Regulations 2009
- Refund of motor vehicle deposits in accordance with the Consumer Fair Trading (Motor Vehicle Dealer Deposits) Regulations 2009
- Opt-out under the Consumer Fair Trading (Opt-Out) Regulations 2009
The SCT does not hear disputes involving hire-purchase, employment, loans, stocks and shares, foreign exchange, rental and charters, legal fees, co-broking, insurance, or motor vehicle disputes.
In addition, if the cause of action happened more than a year ago, the SCT will not hear the claim.
For example, if you purchased a $4,999 LCD TV and found it to be defective, but the retailer refused to refund your fees, you may claim at the SCT. However, if the purchase occurred more than a year ago, the SCT will not hear the claim.
See our other article for more information on limitation periods in Singapore.
What If My Claim Does Not Fall Within the Jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunals?
It does not mean that you have no remedy. You can still sue in the other civil courts, just not the SCT.
What Happens after I Lodge a Claim at the Small Claims Tribunals?
The Registrar will conduct the initial mediation and consultation. If both sides cannot come to a settlement, the claim will be heard by a referee. The parties will present their side of the story themselves, and cannot be represented by a lawyer. Witnesses may even be called in. Finally, the referee will make a decision to either enforce or reject the claim.
An advantage of the SCT is that the loser does not have to bear any legal costs incurred.
For more information on the SCT, please visit the State Courts website.
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