Know Your Rights: How To File a Claim at the Small Claims Tribunal

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 potentially 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.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of filing a claim at the Small Claims Tribunal and empower you with the knowledge needed to assert your rights effectively.

What qualifies as a small claim?

In legal contexts, what qualifies as a small claim for the Small Claims Tribunal often means meeting certain criteria related to the nature of the dispute and the amount of money involved. In Singapore, where the Small Claims Tribunal is commonly used to resolve such matters, the following general criteria apply:

Monetary limit: Small claims typically involve a limited monetary amount. In Singapore, the limit for small claims is usually set at S$20,000. This means that disputes involving amounts below this threshold are eligible for consideration by the Small Claims Tribunal. However, this limit can be raised to S$30,000 if both parties agree to it through a Memorandum of Consent.

The claim must be filed within two years from the time of the situation that caused the dispute.

Nature of the dispute: The Small Claims Tribunal is designed to handle specific types of disputes, primarily those related to contractual or commercial matters. Common examples include:

  • 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

The parties involved in the dispute must generally be individuals or businesses. The Small Claims Tribunal is not typically designed to handle disputes involving public bodies or complex corporate entities.

What is Excluded From the Small Claims Tribunal?

Certain types of claims may be excluded from the Small Claims Tribunal. For instance, disputes involving defamation, family matters, or claims against the government are typically not within the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

It’s important to note that specific rules and criteria may vary depending on the jurisdiction. As such, if you’re seeking to file a small claim, you should familiarise yourself with the rules and guidelines established by the relevant Small Claims Tribunal in the jurisdiction.

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 amountIndividualOther entity
Up to S$5,000S$10S$50
Between S$5,000 and S$10,000S$20S$100
More than S$10,000 and up to S$20,0001% of claim amount3% of claim amount
More than S$20,000, up to S$30,000

*Consent of both parties required. A Memorandum of Consent must be uploaded or filed.

1% of claim amount3% 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?

The process for filing and resolving small claims is simpler compared to traditional court proceedings. This is to ensure that individuals without legal representation can navigate the system effectively.

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.

Read more: Shrinkflation & How You Can Safeguard Your Rights as a Consumer

3 thoughts on “Know Your Rights: How To File a Claim at the Small Claims Tribunal

  1. Lim Siong Lye Amy says:

    Dear Sir
    Thanks for your step by step guide. As a claimant and to serve notice to the respondent, is it possible for me to email to the company? In this way, I do not need to get the letter registered to serve my notice to the respondent.
    Then for SCT, can I just upload the email sent?
    Thanks for your advice.

  2. Lee Sally says:

    Dear Sir,

    Kindly advise if the Respondent is a foreigner and doesn’t base in Singapore, can he authorise his agent who managing his property in Singapore to attend the hearing on his behalf. The agent who has gone through the whole transition of renting the apartment (owned by Respondent) with the Claimant.

    Thanks & regards,

    • Cherie Wang says:

      Hi Sally, there should be some authorisation that can be done with your lawyer to allow a proxy to act on your behalf. For this, you will need to check with your lawyer.

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