Many people in Singapore do not know where to turn when they need to settle a dispute. They want to avoid a regular lawsuit, given Singapore’s high legal costs.
If you believe you have been wronged, there is one place you can turn to: the Small Claims Tribunal. The tribunal is part of Singapore’s State Courts. It allows people and companies to settle minor disputes quickly for a small fee.
What Qualifies as a Small Claim?
The default maximum claim amount is S$20,000. But the limit can be raised to S$30,000 if both parties agree to it.
The claim must be filed within two years from the time of the situation that caused the dispute.
What can you claim through the Small Claims Tribunals?
These are examples of disputes you can file a claim on:
- The way a service was provided (e.g. private tuition)
- Goods you bought are damaged or caused you damage (e.g. household appliances)
- Property damages that fall under tort law, causing property owners to lose money due to reckless, careless, or improper behaviour by others (this excludes claims for property damage caused by a motor vehicle accident)
- Residential lease contracts
- Motor vehicle deposit refunds
Find out if your case qualifies for small claims here.
Key things to note before filing a Small Claims Tribunals
All small claims have to be filed electronically. The filing fee is non-refundable, and is priced at:
|Claim amount||Individual||Other entity|
|Up to S$5,000||S$10||S$50|
|Between S$5,000 and S$10,000||S$20||S$100|
|More than S$10,000 and up to S$20,000||1% of claim amount||3% of claim amount|
|More than S$20,000, up to S$30,000||1% of claim amount||3% of claim amount|
Documents required include:
- Records that support your claim (e.g. receipts, contracts, invoices)
- Memorandum of Consent, if applicable (for claims over S$20,000 but less than S$30,000)
- Letter of Authorisation
- Letter of Authorisation for businesses
- Translations (if documents are not in English)
- ACRA Business Profile (only for business users)
Step-by-step guide to filing a small claim
Step 1: You can file a claim online via the Community Justice and Tribunals System (CJTS).
Step 2: Log in through your SingPass (for individuals) or CorpPass (for business users). If you do not have either of the above, you can apply for a CJTS Pass.
Step 3: Update “My Profile” with your personal details.
Step 4: Click “Online applications”, then “Claim Form”.
Step 5: Key in your Pre-filing ID, or proceed with a pre-filing assessment to receive a pre-filing ID.
Step 6: Complete questions in the pre-filing assessment, and press “Submit”.
Step 7: Fill up the claim form with the following:
- The claimant’s particulars
- The respondent’s particulars
- Upload the supporting documents
Once done, press “Submit”, then “Confirm to Proceed”.
Step 8: Pay the filing fee. Applications will only be processed after the payment has been made.
Step 9: Pick a consultation date and time.
Step 10: Click “Save respondent’s notice”. Print the Notice of Consultation and the claim that will be served to the respondent.
What happens after filing the claim?
After the claim is filed, you will have to wait for the Order of Registrar’s approval. Once the claim has been accepted, both sides are required to attend a consultation for an amicable mediation by the tribunal.
During this consultation, the Registrar will:
- Determine whether the claim is within the tribunal’s jurisdiction
- Provide both sides a chance to discuss the case for an amicable resolution
- In the event that both parties cannot arrive at an agreement, the court will fix a hearing before a Tribunal Magistrate
Even after a claim has been filed, both parties can still attempt to settle the dispute on their own. If an agreement is made prior to the consultation date, this claim can be withdrawn on the CJTS portal.
If the approval for your claim was rejected, you can pay a S$20 fee to appeal against the Order of Registrar by e-filing.
What happens if you are absent in a Small Claims Court?
Your claim may not be attended to if you are the claimant. If you are the respondent, a default judgement may be made against you.
Stay in the know and make smart financial decisions
Filing a claim is actually more affordable and straightforward than you might have thought before. Make sure you know your rights. No company or person should take advantage of you.