cIVIL LITIGATION IN SINGAPORE
In Singapore any dispute in court or before going to court over an oral or written agreement would be considered typically as a civil litigation matter. These issues can range from an employment dispute, tenancy dispute, loans between friends to a large commercial dispute between companies.
When looking for a Civil litigation lawyer you will need to share with the lawyer the following points
- What does the other party owe you?
- Why does he owe you this sum of money or service?
- Do you have any evidence to proof your point?
It is important to let your lawyer know which stage you are at so that they can advice you accordingly.
CIVIL LITIGATION PROCESS
As the cost of civil litigation may be high, it is best to try and settle the dispute between parties through negotiations. This could involve sending the other party a Letter of Demand or even attempting to negotiate a settlement of the other party’s claim by giving the other party an Offer to Settle.
Letter of demand
It is vital to serve on the other party a letter of demand even if you have already tried to send them reminders and other letters demanding for payment or the provision of a particular service due.
Sending a Letter of Demand will also show the Courts that you had provided the other party with sufficient information on why they had to repay you and that you had attempted to settle this matter before bringing it before the Court. This issue on “Party & Party Costs” may be in your favour if you issue a reasonable Letter of Demand.
starting a lawsuit
To commence a suit, it is best to approach a lawyer who can advise you on the merits of your case. It is not advisable to file a claim against someone or a company on your own as it is a technical process and a lawyer’s input on it would assist you greatly.
Length of a lawsuit
Most lawsuits will take between 6 months (an expedited MC Suit where parties settle the matter between themselves) to as long as a 2-3 years.
Generally cases with higher sums of monies involved or with multiple disputed issues will take longer to resolve in Court
mediation / dispute resolution
Mediation or Dispute Resolution are good ways of resolving a lawsuit, it allows parties to freely discuss the matter on a without prejudice basis and settle the matter at a fraction of the legal cost they would incur if the matter proceeded to trial.
When going for Mediation or Dispute Resolution it is best to focus on finding a solution to the issue and being willing to take less away from the table. While you may be taking away less you will also be able to save on legal costs, the headache of litigation and the fact that you can finally move on with your life without this issue hanging over your head.
When a Civil Matter is in Court this is the typical stage
- The Plaintiff will file a Writ of Summons & a Statement of Claim.
- The Defendant has 8 days to enter a Memorandum of Appearance, failing to do so will allow the Plaintiff to enter into Default Judgement.
- The Defendant has then 22 days in total to file his Defence and Counterclaim (if any)
- The Plaintiff will then file a Summons For Directions
- The Plaintiff and the Defendant will then need to file their List of Documents (List of Evidence)
- The Plaintiff and the Defendant will then need to file their Affidavit of Evidence in Chief (their Witness’s statements)
- The Judge will make his decision and release his Judgement on the matter.
- It may be necessary to Enforce the Judgement if a party refuses to comply with the Judgement.
settling the matter
Settling the matter before commencing a lawsuit has many advantages:
1. You will be able to save on legal fees and costs.
2. Your matter would have been resolved and you can carry on with your life without this hanging on your mind.
3. Parties’ relationship, if any, can be salvaged at the end of a well negotiated matter.
LITIGATION IN COURT
If parties are unwilling to settle the matter of if their proposed settlement is not reasonable, then it may be best to let a Judge decide the matter.
The benefit of having a matter in Court is the pressure it has on parties, both parties will actively attempt to negotiate to settle the matter and often the matter is resolved before trial.
The cost of a Civil Suit varies on many factors such as:
- The amount being claimed. (A Magistrates Court Suit will cost less than a High Court Suit)
- The complexity of the matter
- Whether the parties involved are litigious (i.e. wanting to dispute anything and everything)