Where to File Your Case
Business disputes are generally heard in the Civil Courts. However, the nature and amount of the claim (compensation being sought) determines the court that will hear your case.
A. Small Claims Tribunal
- The Small Claims Tribunal handles claims up to S$10,000. If both parties agree, the claim amount can be up to S$20,000.
- The Small Claims Tribunal only deals with disputes that involve sale of goods or services and property damage.
See: Categories of Claims
B. Magistrates’ Court
- The Magistrates’ Court hears all types of disputes as long as the amount in dispute does not exceed S$60,000.
C. District Court
- The District Court hears all types of disputes for claims more than $60,000 but not exceeding S$250,000.
D. High Court
- The High Court hears all claims that exceed S$250,000. It also deals with other matters such as probate, bankruptcy, winding-up of companies, etc.
E. Other Specialised Courts
There are also specialised courts and tribunals that hear cases on specific matters:
- Copyright Tribunals
The Copyright Tribunals help to resolve disputes between copyright owners and users of copyright materials.
- Labour Court
When disputes between employers and employees cannot be resolved through reconciliation and mediation, they may be referred to the Labour Court.
Process of Filing a Case
- The person claiming, also known as the plaintiff, decides which Civil Court to file the suit depending on the nature and amount of the claim.
- The plaintiff starts the entire process by filing a claim according to the rules of the court.
- The person being sued, also known as the defendant, will be “served” the claim. The defendant can then engage a lawyer to defend his case.
- The court will set a date to hear both sides and evaluate all the evidence.
- At any time after a claim is filed and before a judgement is made, the parties can try to settle out of court. In the Small Claims Tribunal, mediation is a necessary step.
- Once a ruling is made, it is enforceable. If the parties refuse to comply, the court can take several actions to enforce the ruling.
- The most common is by issuing a writ of seizure and sale. It allows the claiming party to seize the assets and sell them in order to obtain the compensation ordered by the court.
- You should consult with your lawyer on the procedures for each court.
Making an Appeal to the High Court
- If you are not satisfied with the judgment, you may make an appeal to the High Court.
- If the appeal is granted, the court may overturn the verdict or change the amount awarded as compensation.
Taking Criminal Action against Someone or a Business
- Only the State can prosecute a person or a business in criminal courts. Even if the business you are suing has committed a criminal offence, you cannot start criminal proceedings.
- You can, however, lodge a complaint in front of a Magistrate if you believe that someone or a business has committed a criminal offence.