A Law Firm In Singapore Guides You To Civil Litigation

Litigation is the process of taking legal action. While it is a common form of conflict resolution, there are other options available. Some of the alternatives include arbitration, mediation, and neutral evaluation. It is advisable to consult a law firm Singapore to help you determine the right option for you.

During civil litigation, the legal proceedings are initiated by the claimant or plaintiff. The legal proceedings take place against a defendant and generally include two private parties, with the state not being a party to the proceedings. 

Civil litigation claims can consist of anything from corporate to tenancy disputes.

Before Legal Proceedings

When a claimant requests a law firm to act on his or her behalf, the lawyer may send a letter of demand to the other party. This demand will express that there is a risk of a lawsuit if the requests aren’t met. 

Assuming that the demands are ignored, the lawyer would then advise moving forward with legal proceedings.

Jurisdiction of the Courts

If the claimant falls within the Small Claims Tribunals’ jurisdiction or SCT, the claimant can begin proceedings in the SCT. 

The SCT can hear claims of up $20,000. There are some exceptions to this rule such that the SCT can also hear claims of up to $30,000. This happens if both parties have agreed to raise the limit.

The claimant may need to request proceedings in the High Court or the State Courts if the disputes are outside of the SCT’s jurisdiction. The State Courts include the Magistrates Court and the District Court.

For civil cases that fall outside of the SCT’s jurisdiction, the limits of each Court are as follows:

  • Magistrate Court’s limit is $60,000
  • State Court’s limit is $250,000

If the dispute goes above $250,000, the District Court can still hear the case, assuming both parties have agreed, in writing, to have it heard there. The District Court can also hear the case if the claimant agrees to limit his or her claim to $250,000.

In situations where the amount of the case exceeds the jurisdiction of the District Court, the case will move up to the High Court.

How is a Civil Suit Started?

The first step in initiating a claim is to complete a writ of summons or an originating summons. This writ will be filed and processed by the Court and served to the defendants named in the case. 

Suing someone outside of Singapore is possible, as long as permission is received from the Court.

Entering an Appearance

Once the defendant has received a copy of the lawsuit, he or she now has to decide if he wants to enter an appearance or not. 

If he chooses to, he will file a memorandum of appearance with the Court. If the defendant decides not to submit an appearance, the plaintiff has the opportunity to apply for a judgment due to the default of appearance. 

In this situation, the judge decides the case and passes down judgment without the defendant participating.

Pleadings

Attached to the writ is the statement of claim or the pleadings. This is where each of the two parties pleads their case and explains the facts of the situation. This statement will also state what the claimant wants from the lawsuit.

The defendant must respond to the plaintiff’s claim within a specific time limit with his defense regarding the situation. This pleading shows why the defendant feels he is not responsible for paying the plaintiff and includes a counterclaim.

In some situations, the plaintiff can reply to what the defendant claims.

Third-Party Procedure

When the defendant feels that there is another party responsible for the plaintiff’s claims, either in whole or in part, the defendant can have the third party added to the claim.

Summons for Directions and Court Dispute Resolution

Once the pleadings have closed, a summons for directions will be taken out. 

This summons will lay out what the parties need to do to prepare for their upcoming trial. This will include information about affidavits, witnesses, and the number of days the case will require. 

When the summons for directions is being heard, the judge can choose to order court dispute resolution. This means that the parties will have to try solving the issue on their own through mediation or other alternatives.

Offers to Settle

Before the judge settles a case, either of the parties in the lawsuit can serve an offer to settle. If the settlement is accepted, then the action would be dismissed from the courts.

Interlocutory Applications

Before a case makes it to trial, both parties will be preparing to bring their cases forward. 

During this time, there are interlocutory applications that can be made to assist in further preparations. 

These applications can include applications for the discovery of documents or applications of summary judgment.

Affidavits and subpoenas

During preparation, each party will prepare affidavits of each of its witnesses to be submitted as evidence. 

In addition, subpoenas can be issued to ensure that witnesses appear at trial.

Pre-Trial and Setting Down

As the final steps before the action goes to trial, the judge will confirm that all pre-trial motions have been dealt with and set a trial date.

The Trial

Finally, we have arrived at the trial. Generally, the plaintiff will present his or her case first. This includes presenting their witnesses and the cross-examination of those witnesses. 

Once all the plaintiff’s witnesses have been heard, his or her case is closed, and the defendant will present his or her’s.

Once both parties have had the chance to present their cases, they will make closing submissions to the judge, either orally or in writing.

Judgments and Orders

The judgment is the decision that the Court has made after the trial has been completed. 

This judgment can be made immediately after the closing arguments or at a later date. This judgment will state who is liable and what amounts are to be awarded to whom.

The judgment can be enforced in many different ways, including seizure of property and garnishment of income.

Appeal

In some situations, the judge’s decision can be appealed by either the defendant or the plaintiff if they are unhappy with the outcome. 

In these situations, the case would be brought to a high court to be heard.