Our civil litigation team’s approach to dispute resolution is framed by three key attributes:
Strong Litigation Competence.
Litigation Risk Management.
Armed with strong dispute resolution skills, our civil and commercial litigation lawyers have successfully acted for individuals, local and foreign companies. Meticulous and perceptive in our assessment of each case, our dispute lawyers craft bespoke and novel strategies. At trial, we punch well above our weight and have even compelled plaintiffs to withdraw their claims during our cross-examination in the High Court.
Our civil litigation lawyers also carry a wealth of experience in alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) mechanisms, including arbitration, mediation, neutral evaluation, conciliation, and negotiations. The wide array of civil and corporate commercial litigation matters handled by our litigation experts include:
Shareholders’ Disputes / Breaches of Director’s Duties;
Corporate Debt Recovery / Corporate Insolvency;
Tribunal and Disciplinary Board Hearings; and
Tax Disputes with IRAS.
Do read on to get a taste of how we manage our cases.
Strong Litigation Competence
With a penchant for hard work, a dedication to providing commercial insights and a rigorous devotion to finding the best strategy, we strive to improve litigation outcomes for our clients.
Shareholder disputes, minority oppression and an injunction leading to a doubled offer
Our client was removed as a director of a company. He had been a shareholder of the company for more than 40 years. The majority shareholders offered our client a sum for the purchase of his minority shares, which our client rejected. The majority shareholders then diverted the business of the company to another company solely owned by them. After swiftly procuring the relevant evidence, we successfully obtained an urgent injunction. This was followed by a swift resolution of the dispute as the majority shareholders were left with little choice but to substantially increase their offer for our client’s shares.
Restraint of Trade; Breach of Confidentiality; Defamation and malicious falsehoods
Our clients were sued by their former MNC employer for breaches of confidentiality, theft of confidential information, restraint of trade and solicitation of the former employer’s clients when our clients left to join a start-up competitor. To compound matters, the former employer wrote damaging letters to industry players about our clients.
After Thiru demolished the former employers’ case during cross-examination, the High Court awarded judgment in our clients’ favour. We then went a step further, aggressively fighting for our clients’ rights by mounting a claim for defamation and malicious falsehoods. This resulted in the former employers paying substantial sums in compensation to our clients. The favourable High Court decision also exonerated our clients and enabled them to freely seek employment in the industry.
Claim for Shares knocked down during Cross-Examination
Our client, then the majority shareholder of a luxury hotel in Singapore instructed us to take over the conduct of their defence. A well-crafted game plan for the trial resulted in the Plaintiff withdrawing her claim against our client midway through the trial. The Plaintiff was also ordered to pay costs to our clients. Significantly, the clients had lost several other trials in the High Court that they had been involved in until Trident Law was instructed to act for them.
A Holistic Approach to Dispute Resolution
Although we believe in the tenacious and rigorous pursuit of our client’s interests, this does not mean that highly acrimonious and costly “tooth and nail” litigation in Court is always the best course of action.
At Trident Law Corporation, we strongly believe in a holistic approach to dispute resolution and in doing our best to provide our clients with comprehensive and practical solutions. We pride ourselves in “wading into the trenches” and advancing our client’s key interests by crafting considered and often ingenious solutions to resolve their problems in the most cost-effective manner, with as little collateral damage as possible.
Restraint of Trade; Breach of Confidentiality; Solicitation
Our clients were sued by their former employer, a highly specialised technological wafer fabrication company for restraint of trade, theft of confidential information and solicitation of clients.
Delving deep into our clients’ business and the technical aspects of the confidential information, we left no stone unturned to find evidence to defend our clients. Through an application of sound contractual legal principles and a level-headed approach to negotiation, we amicably resolved the matter in our clients’ favour, with the former employer dropping the case against our clients without a trial.
Share valuation models
Our client, who was sued for oppression of a minority shareholder, had previously offered to purchase the minority shareholder’s shares. However, our client’s offer was declined.
We devised a novel strategy to objectively value the shares, which led to our client paying far less than the amount he had previously offered to the minority shareholder.
The authorities refused to renew our client’s operational license. After commencing Judicial Review proceedings, we engaged in discussions with the regulator and carried out a detailed analysis of the objectives and concerns of the regulator. We then advised and assisted our client in preparing a comprehensive and extensive regulatory compliance regime and training programme, which proved to be a novel solution to assuaging the regulator’s concerns. Our client’s operational licence was renewed, allowing our client to resume business.
Litigation Risk Management
Over and above our advocacy in Court, we have advised our clients on strategic and pre-emptive planning to avoid and/or minimise their risks of litigation.
This includes advice regarding the preparation of the appropriate contracts and agreements, the implementation of proper compliance structures, litigation risk management and overall strategic long-term planning.
If you need legal advice and would like to consult one of our experienced lawyers, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
UNDERSTANDING THE CIVIL PROCESS
“Justice is accessible to the extent that its processes are responsive to the needs of those who seek it and consistent with the ideals of the law”. – Professor Jeffrey Pinsler, SC.
The point that learned Professor Pinsler, SC, is making here is that access to justice should be a meaningful process for people, including those involved in a civil action. Civil procedure serves its purpose not just by putting rules in place or consolidating them for clarity, but in view of a just outcome. Indeed, the Professor has also stated that “[a] dispute should be resolved fairly and justly according to the needs of the parties and the circumstances of the case”.
A person who is involved in a civil dispute should have access to justice. The outcome of taking your dispute to Court may not always leave either of you (i.e. you and/or the other party) completely satisfied. However, at least it gives you an opportunity to have your say, or your day(s), in Court. While the Court would be prepared to hear the matter, the door remains open for you to settle your dispute in a way that may serve the interests of all parties better. To this end, the civil process in Singapore enables you to consider negotiation, mediation and hopefully reach a peaceful settlement of your dispute before and during civil proceedings. Moving forward, this is the direction that civil justice under Singapore law is heading. Accordingly, our Singapore civil process is organised in such a way that going to Court should be your last option or resort. It is your right to start your civil action or lawsuit against the other party but remember that there might be alternative solutions to your dispute.
Generally, if you are suing someone, it is not strictly necessary for you to engage a lawyer, except where you suffer from some disability, or where the party concerned is a company (or unincorporated association). While the Court will do what it can to help you where you really need legal guidance, you might be seriously disadvantaged if the other party already has a lawyer. This is because of the challenges of understanding Court protocols, the civil process, and the law itself.
If you find a lawyer, s/he can guide you through the civil process, take instructions from you, and advise you on the next steps accordingly, based on your instructions. Please understand that your lawyer cannot follow instructions that would break the law, or breach the lawyer’s duty to the Court and/or professional conduct duties.
If you decide to engage a lawyer, consider all the documents that s/he would need and make copies of them. Let your lawyer know anything that you think is important about your case. Answer your lawyer’s questions truthfully. Ask your lawyer questions if you have any concerns or doubts.
Please note that the information below is certainly not intended to be legal advice. It is meant to give you some understanding of the civil process generally. It is hoped that this will give you a better idea of your options if you wish to sue or if you are being sued. In particular, the new Rules of Court 2021, which introduces wide-ranging reforms to our civil justice system, will take effect from 1 April 2022.
Considering these developments, the information below may have to be modified and updated.
In a nutshell, a general, simplified version of the civil process could be seen as set out below:
The Rules of Court 2021 (“ROC 2021”) have been in force since 1 April 2022. It covers all civil proceedings that are initiated from 1 April 2022 onwards. Meanwhile, its predecessor (i.e. the previous version) will remain applicable for such proceedings filed before 1 April 2022.
The ROC 2021 tries to improve Singapore’s civil process by making the rules easier to understand, modernising and simplifying the procedure and providing for more judicial control of the process. Such an approach sees to it that the civil justice process keeps in touch with needs, technology and industry.
The Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon who spearheaded the civil justice reforms, stated as follows:
“While Singapore has a world-class civil litigation system, we must continue to review and improve our system to better serve the needs of our society. After carefully considering the constructive feedback that was received from a range of stakeholders following the public consultation, we have refined and developed the initial recommendations of the [Civil Justice Commission] and [Civil Justice Review Committee], and this is now reflected in the ROC 2021. The new Rules demonstrate our Courts’ commitment to developing a forward- looking legal system while maintaining the costs of litigation at reasonable levels. They will also help us achieve the crucial goal of reducing the complexity of legal proceedings and streamlining our court processes to further improve access to justice. We will continue the work of reviewing the new Rules as we gain experience from implementing them.”
ROC 2021’s Objectives
The ROC 2021 supports the following “ideals”:
Access to Justice;
Increased efficiency in proceedings;
Cost-effective work that is commensurate with the relevant claim or application,its nature and complexity, and the relevant amount sought;
Effective use of Court resources; and
A pragmatic outcome that is geared towards meeting the parties’ needs.
In view of these ideals, the ROC 2021 focuses on case management, including Case Conferences, with Judges and Registrars having greater supervision over how the case progresses. Parties will be responsible for handling their case in a way that will help the Court work towards realising these ideals. We set out certain features of the ROC 2021 further below, but for now we return to the basics to enable you to understand the civil process.
SUING SOMEONE, OR BEING SUED – “DIFFERENT CLAIM, DIFFERENT COURT”
If you are suing someone (e.g. for breach of contract or negligence), or if you are being sued, the claim amount will guide you on which would be the appropriate court for the process.
if your claim is in relation to a salary-related dispute with your employer or employee, the Employment Claims Tribunal can assess your case for claims that are not above $20,000. However, the parties must undergo mediation at the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management. Only when the mediation is not successful can the matter go before the Employment Claims Tribunal;
if your claim is regarding a contract for sale of goods or services in tort, or where there is damage caused to any property (except from a motor vehicle accident), that is not above $10,000, the Small Claims Tribunal can assess your case. Where the parties are agreeable, the Small Claims Tribunal can also assess your case for civil claims of up to $20,000;
if your claim is not above $60,000, it will go before the Magistrate’s Courts: Section 2 of the State Courts Act 1970 on “Magistrate’s Court Limit”;
if your claim is above $60,000 but not above $250,000, it will go before the District Courts: Section 2 of the State Courts Act 1970 on “District Court Limit”. This is the case except where your case is a personal injury case involving an industrial accident). Here, if your claim is not above $500,000, it may be heard by the District Court;
if your claim is above $250,000 it will go before the High Court: Section 2 of the State Courts Act 1970 on “District Court Limit”. The General Division of the High Court assesses civil claims above $250,000, and appeals from District Court and Magistrate’s Court judgments.If an application is made, the General Division of the High Court may order to examine witnesses who are overseas for the purposes of civil proceedings that would ordinarily come under the purview of the District Court. To this end, the General Division of the High Court may order the transfer of such civil matters from the District Court.
THE EARLY STAGE OR ONSET OF CIVIL PROCEEDINGS
Start of Action or Lawsuit by the Plaintiff
An Originating Claim (“OC”) or Originating Application (“OA”) is the document which starts the civil action against the Defendant. It is important that either one is prepared in such a way that the Defendant can understand the claim to decide how to respond. If the Defendant does not wish to “fight” the Plaintiff’s claim, the Defendant may wish to contact either the Plaintiff or the Plaintiff’s lawyer to settle the dispute straightaway. In doing so, both parties might be able to save on legal fees.
Whether you are the Plaintiff or the Defendant in a civil action, the claim or defence that you make must have enough basis under the law. If not, there are certain situations where the Court may dismiss the Plaintiff’s claim or the Defendant’s defence (called “striking out”) or make necessary changes to either.
Service of the Relevant Document(s) on the Other Party
The act of serving the OC or OA on the Defendant is important because it is the main way to “kickstart” the civil process in Court. If you are the Plaintiff, you are generally required to have the OC or OA served on the Defendant personally. This form of service, called “personal service”, is still seen as the best way of being confident that the Defendant is aware of the matter. Another way to enable such service of the relevant document on the other party is to reach an agreement with the other party (e.g. agreement for service via registered post to a certain location, or through a “process agent”).
The service of the OC or OA is a way to put the other party on “official” notice that a claim has been made against her/him/it. Such service of Originating Process also gives the other party a chance to respond.
Substituted service is another alternative to personal service. It is only used in exceptional cases. You will need the Court’s permission to use this method of service. Based on your instructions, your lawyer could look into options for such service, especially where personal service “is impracticable or impossible”. For example, substituted service may be available where there does not seem to be a way to find out where the other party is currently based or located. Forms of substituted service may include placing the document on the entrance door of the other party’s most recently known residential or business address.
Except where the claim concerns damage, personal injury or loss of life arising from a collision between ships, where different provisions of the ROC 2021 are applicable, service on a Defendant overseas might be possible with the consent of the Court under certain conditions. For example, such service might be possible with the consent of the Court where the Defendant normally stays in Singapore, is a resident in Singapore, or runs a business or has property in Singapore. The situations in which service of the civil action on the Defendant overseas is possible with the consent of the Court are listed under Order 8 of the ROC 2021 (on service out of Singapore).
Defence and/or Counterclaim
If the Defendant contests the claim (i.e. if the Defendant wants to “fight” the claim), s/he should prepare to file a notice to contest if this is in response to an OC, or an affidavit in reply if this is in response to an OA. To this end, the Defendant should get in touch with a lawyer as soon as s/he can. The lawyer can submit the appropriate response for the Defendant in Court to enable the Defendant to contest the claim.
The Defence should set out the primary facts of the case for the defence. Having received the OC or OA, and entered the appropriate response, the Defendant must also respond by submitting the Defence in Court, with a copy served on the office address of the Plaintiff’s lawyers (or the address of service of the Plaintiff where s/he is not represented by a lawyer).
If the Defendant wishes to make a Counterclaim in the same matter, s/he is required to add that Counterclaim to the Defence to be submitted (unless the Court orders separate trials).
Your pleadings, whether you are:
the Plaintiff preparing the document that contains your statement of claim (or your reply, if you wish to do so [and/or your defence to the counterclaim]) or;
the Defendant preparing the document that contains your defence and/or counterclaim, should set out the statement of your case.
The purpose of your pleadings is to enable the Court to know your case and understand how far it goes i.e. its breadth and limits: Professor Pinsler, SC. For example, for the Plaintiff, your statement of claim has to support your action or lawsuit by including the main facts (called “material facts”) that are important to prove your case. Similarly for the Defendant, your defence has to supported by the main facts (i.e. “material facts”) that are important to prove your case. It is important to note that your pleadings should not contain arguments or evidence. The purpose of both your pleadings and those of the other side is to set out your respective cases so that you both (as well as the Court) are aware of each other’s case and respective positions in preparation for the trial. Such an approach also enables the Court to help both parties recognise the issues that are in dispute. In doing so, it lays the foundations for the parties to provide evidence at trial.
Every pleading must, where necessary, be organised into numbered paragraphs, with each claim you make set out in a separate paragraph as “far as convenient”. dates, amounts and any other numbers are to be set out in the pleading in figures. You are not supposed to spell out any number in words in your pleadings. Where you have not engaged a lawyer, your pleadings must include your name and address and signed by you. If you have engaged a lawyer, your pleadings must include the name or firm of your lawyer and her/his business address, and must be signed by your lawyer.
In preparing your pleadings, you must at least comply with these requirements.
Other Important Contents of Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim (or Defendant’s Counterclaim)
Besides the requirements above, if you are the Plaintiff, basically your statement of claim should be in the following step-by-step format: (i) important background information on how the dispute came about; (ii) the main facts that justify the cause of action (e.g. breach of contract, or negligence); and (iii) the relief that you are seeking, such as costs, or damages (compensation).
Other Important Contents of Defendant’s Defence
Likewise, aside from the requirements above, if you are the Defendant, basically your defence may contain a “denial”, “non-admission”, or an admission together with a “legally justifiable excuse” in response to a fact that is set out in the Plaintiff’s statement of claim. Any fact claimed by the Plaintiff in her/his statement of claim that you do not clarify, dispute or take issue with will be treated as if you had admitted to that fact. It is therefore in your interests to respond to each and every fact that is claimed in the Plaintiff’s statement of claim categorically and/or systematically.
Other Important Contents of Plaintiff’s Reply and/or Defence to Counterclaim (where applicable i.e. if you as the Plaintiff wish to respond)
If you are the Plaintiff and you wish to raise a fact which casts doubt on the defence or bring up new issues that would otherwise catch the Defendant by surprise or off-guard, you must file a reply. If you wish serve reply to the defence as well as your defence to the counterclaim on the Defendant, you must set our both your reply as well as your defence in the same document. Any fact claimed by the Defendant in her/his defence that you do not clarify, dispute or take issue with will be treated as if you had admitted to that fact. It is therefore in your interests to respond to each and every fact that is claimed in the Defendant’s counterclaim categorically and/or systematically.
Trident Law Corporation has access to LawNet’s Pleadings Database, which includes information on how to draft appropriate pleadings based on your instructions, and in your best interests subject to our lawyers’ duty to the Court and professional conduct obligations. We believe that the Pleadings Database will be useful guide to this end, because the pleadings are selected by judges for being concise, succinct and well- structured.
The purpose of the Pre-Trial Conference (“PTC”) is to manage the case moving forward. The PTC will enable the Court to be updated on the status of your case, work towards crystallising and/or identifying the issues in dispute and look into resolving certain outstanding matters.
COURT DISPUTE RESOLUTION MECHANISMS
If the claim amount is not above $250,000, the case will proceed under the State Courts’ Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (“CDRC”). The CDRC uses a Court Dispute Resolution (“CDR”) approach to manage the case in a way to facilitate settling the case without having to go to trial. If the claim amount is above $250,000, the case may be mediated at the Singapore Mediation Centre (“SMC”), which has handled a dispute involving well over $1 billion.
You have nothing to lose by attending the CDR session. Even if you and the other party are unable to reach settlement and the case proceeds to Court, “the foundations would have been laid” for negotiations with a view to settling the dispute, even during Court proceedings. Also, any written communications and negotiations between the parties with a view to settlement would not be revealed to the Court during Court proceedings.
Please set aside enough time for the CDR session. In preparation for the CDR, it would be useful to consider discussing your case with your lawyer beforehand.
Judicial mediation is a way for the Judge to act as a mediator, sharing her/his thoughts with the parties with a view towards negotiating a settlement. The Judge does not propose detailed solutions but assists the parties to look into solutions that address their respective problems.
If the CDR session has been arranged to mediate the dispute, try to think of your objectives for the CDR mediation session and discuss all options that you would be prepared to consider with your lawyer. You may also wish to consider and discuss how the other side is likely to respond to any proposed options or solutions. You should feel free to share any concerns with your lawyer, who will advise you based on your instructions.
Neutral Evaluation (for Motor accident cases, personal injury cases [such as industrial accidents])
Neutral Evaluation is a way for the Judge to consider the case and give an early indication of the parties’ chances of succeeding should the case proceed to trial. This process is very different from mediation because the parties’ respective lawyers will make submissions and present key evidence to the Judge.
Since proceeding to trial may be expensive and also tiring for you, you may wish to discuss the legal costs with your lawyer and decide if you would be willing to proceed with taking the matter further i.e. to Court.
Conciliation is a way for the Judge to act as a conciliator, where s/he works towards the parties’ agreeing to an optimal resolution of their case. To this end, the Judge will propose ways to address the main issues, but the final choice on whether to agree to any settlement remains with the parties.
If the parties cannot settle their dispute, the matter will be fixed for trial.
For the trial, you should be properly attired (dress decently) and address the Judge as “Your Honour”. Ensure that you are presentable and well-groomed.
Please be punctual for your trial (and any Court Hearing). It is in your interests.
Giving evidence in Court
When it is time for you to give evidence, your lawyer or the Court Clerk will call for you, and tell you where to sit or stand.
If you are giving evidence in Court, you will be asked to “tell the truth”. Remember to address the Judge as “Your Honour”. You should take this process seriously. Do not answer any question by making jokes.
Remember to tell the truth. You could be charged for lying in Court: Section 191 of the Penal Code. Do not change your evidence for somebody’s benefit.
Giving evidence is not going to be easy. No matter who asks you the questions, your answers should be given to the Judge. The Judge will be taking notes. You may wish to speak clearly, slowly and pronounce your words as well as you can.
You should try to stay calm and collected.
The first part of giving evidence is called “Examination-in-chief” (“EIC”). Your lawyer will ask you for your full name, address and what job you have, if any. S/he will then ask you some questions. Your lawyer may ask you to look at and go through certain documents and ask you questions about them. If you have already provided a written, sworn statement (called “Affidavit of Evidence-in-Chief” [“AEIC”]), your lawyer will ask you to verify what it says. Remember to respond to those questions by addressing your answers to the Judge.
Cross-examination by the Other Party’s Lawyer
After this, the lawyer for the other side will cross-examine you. The other side’s lawyer will ask you questions, some of which may refer to your AEIC. You may find these questions difficult to answer or understand. If you do not know the answer to any question, you should say so. If you are not sure, you should say so. If you are unable to understand a question, you may wish to politely ask the other side’s lawyer to clarify or explain what s/he means.
When the other side’s lawyer says “I suggest to you that”, or “I put it to you that”, s/he is trying to set out the other side’s version of events or facts. You should not get angry, annoyed or overreact. If you do not agree, you should just say that you do not agree. If you do not recall, you should just say so. You should avoid engaging in any argument with the other side’s lawyer. Remember to state your answers clearly, slowly, and address them to the Judge.
If you need time to go through a document before answering any question, you can ask the Judge for time.
After the cross-examination, your lawyer may ask you a few more questions to clarify some responses as a result of the cross-examination. This process is called re- examination.
After giving evidence
When you have finished giving evidence, you can walk out of the witness box with the Judge’s consent. The Judge may instruct that you might have to return as a witness if further evidence is needed from you.
You should not talk to other witnesses when you finish giving evidence in Court.
The judgment can be given verbally or in written form on another day, after the Judge has heard concluding arguments from both sides.
If the Court wishes to distinguish issues of liability (i.e. Court’s findings on “rights and wrongs”, and where necessary, which party should be held responsible) from damages (broadly speaking, compensation) it will first give its judgment on liability and the distinct but related process of assessment of the damages will follow or take place later.
The Court can enable the Bailiff to confiscate and sell property of the judgment debtor to meet the debt owed to the creditor in accordance with the judgment.
As a general rule, you can only appeal to a higher Court on the following grounds: (i) on new legal questions; (ii) clear factual mistakes in the judgment; or (iii) a “breach of natural justice”.
Assuming that one of the above conditions are met, the Plaintiff or Defendant can appeal against District or Magistrate Court’s judgment with the High Court, but the appeal is to be filed within set time limits after the judgment is given. If your claim is not above $60,000 (or if the Court issues an order under the Third Schedule of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1969 i.e. can only be appealed with “leave”), you would have to seek permission to appeal to the High Court.
Different procedural rules on how to file your appeal may apply, depending on which Court you are appealing from. To this end, Order 19 of the ROC 2021 would be informative.
The relevant Court will organise a hearing and give you notice through the eLitigation portal or by post. Both you and the other party would be required to attend. If you cannot make it on the scheduled hearing date, you should ask for the Court’s permission to change the hearing date.
KEY FEATURES OF ROC 2021
Case Conferences. Judges or Registrars will hold Case Conferences to ensure that the civil justice process runs its course efficiently.
Single Application Pending Trial. Where possible, the Court is to proceed with a “Single Application Pending Trial” (“SAPT”) to be submitted by each of the parties to manage the case more efficiently and reduce delays which can incur further costs before trial. To this end, the SAPT submitted by each of the parties is to cover all matters at the relevant stage of proceedings in view of enabling the case to proceed.
Requesting “AEICs” beforehand. The Court can now request for Affidavits of Evidence-in-Chief before seeking further documentation.
Expert Evidence. Parties must let the Court know at the Registrar Case Conference if they wish to depend on expert evidence. The Court will not permit relying on such evidence unless it can really enable it to decide any particular issue in the case. Parties should consider coming to an agreement on a “common set of assumed facts” that the experts can share their views on.
Simplified Terminology. There are many terms that have been simplified to enable better understanding of the civil justice process.
Under the ROC 2021, the terminology for an Originating Process has been simplified for better understanding. An “Originating Claim” (“OC”) has replaced the writ of summons. Likewise an “Originating Application” (“OA”) has replaced the originating summons. A party can initiate an action through an OC or OA. The principles underlying either action will be more or less similar, for the most part.
Validity of Originating Process
Generally speaking, an OC or OA is now only valid for 3 months from the date of submission, save for special cases. Even then, the Court can extend the validity of the Originating Process only two times and can only extend it for up to 3 months each time. Only OCs for admiralty proceedings would be valid for up to a year.
The ROC 2021 contemplates that the OC will be submitted along with its Statement of Claim. If the Defendant has been served the OC, s/he must receive the Statement of Claim within 14 days after the OC has been served.
Likewise, the ROC 2021 contemplates that the OA will be supported with an Affidavit.
Contesting an OC or OA
Where the Defendant who has been served with an OC wants to contest it, s/he is to submit a Notice of Intention to Contest (or Not Contest) within 14 days after the Statement of Claim has been served on her or him in Singapore or within 21 days after the Statement of Claim has been served on her or him out of Singapore.
The Defendant must follow up by filing and serving the Defence to the OC within 21 days after the Statement of Claim has been served on her or him (in Singapore) or within 5 weeks (out of Singapore). If the Defendant fails to meet this deadline, the Claimant can seek a Default Judgment.
Separately, if the Defendant wants to present evidence in response to an OA, s/he must submit an affidavit within 21 days after the OA and its supporting affidavit have been served on her or him in Singapore or within 5 weeks after the OA and its supporting affidavit have been served on her or him out of Singapore. If the Defendant fails to meet this deadline, the Court will proceed on the understanding that s/he does not want to present evidence and will decide on the OA based on the Claimant’s Affidavit and the parties’ respective written arguments.
Challenging the Court’s Jurisdiction
If the Defendant is challenging the Court’s ability to decide the matter (i.e. challenging its jurisdiction), it is not necessary for her or him to submit a substantive Defence but s/he must submit a Defence (in response to an OC) or an Affidavit (in response to an OA) that sets out the reasons for doing so.
Additional Limitations in the Interests of Time
After the Defendant has submitted the Defence or the Claimant has submitted the Defence to the Defendant’s Counterclaim, the parties cannot submit any more pleadings unless the Court directs them to do so. If the Claimant only wants to deny the Defence’s s claims, no response is necessary, and if the Claimant wants to proceed with a response s/he is to seek the Court’s permission.
Likewise, in response to an OA, the Defendant is not to submit any further affidavit after s/he has submitted an Affidavit on the merits, save for an exceptional case.
Amendment of Pleadings
Parties will not be able to amend their respective pleadings before the conclusion of pleadings without the Court’s approval. Rather, pleadings can only be amended with the Court’s approval or through the parties’ written agreement within 14 days before the start of the trial. The Court will not permit such amendments less than 14 days before the start of the trial save for an exceptional case.
Service of Originating Process
The ROC 2021 mandate that the parties take reasonable steps to effect service expeditiously. Where service is in Singapore, reasonable steps should be taken to within 14 days after the issuance of the Originating Process. Where service is out of Singapore, reasonable steps should be taken within 28 days after such issuance. To this end, if the Claimant does not effect service of the Originating Process by the first Case Conference, the Court may consider dismissing the claim.
Certain Kinds of Service
Personal Service. A party who is not legally represented or her or his employee, or any other person that the Registrar permits, may now effect personal service.
Ordinary Service via E-mail. Ordinary Service can be done via e-mail, through an e-mail address given by the Party to be served without seeking the Court’s authorisation or order beforehand.
Substituted Service. If the Claimant secures a Court Order enabling Substituted Service, this must be done within 14 days after such Order.
Service out of Singapore. If it can be proved that the Court has the authority or the power to hear the claim, the Court may permit Service out of Singapore. Such permission would not be needed if such service is provided for under a written agreement between the parties.
Calculation of time. If service takes place after 5pm on a given day,it is considered to have been effected the next day. Generally Non-Court days are included in the calculation of time unless the relevant period is 6 days or less. If the relevant period is “7 days”, this means 7 calendar days that include Non-Court days.
Extension of Time. Parties can expressly agree in writing to an extension of time for service, filing or amending a pleading or other document only one time for up to 14 days without a Court Order. Any other extensions of time would need a Court Order.
Circumstances in which Additional Fees may apply
Under the ROC 2021, late filing fees are applicable, and additional fees are applicable where the pages exceed the prescribed page limit.
As mentioned, the information above is not intended to be legal advice, but is meant to give you some understanding of the civil process generally. Please do not use the information contained here as a comprehensive guide.
Trident Law Corporation excludes liability for loss suffered by any person resulting in any way from the use of, or reliance on, this information.
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