What is the Small Claims Tribunals?

by | Feb 22, 2019 | Blog

The Small Claims Tribunals is a fast and affordable method for resolving small claims between consumers and suppliers with disputes that started less than a year ago. The Small Claims Tribunal has the authority to handle different types of claims and claims involving amounts of up to $10,000 (or up to $20,000 if the parties agree to this in writing).

The Small Claims Tribunals can handle cases involving the following:

  • Contract for the sale of goods
  • Contract for providing a service – the service must involve skill and labour
  • Damage caused to property
  • Lease / tenancy agreement for residential property of up to 2 years
  • Cancellation of contracts under the Consumer Fair Trading (Cancellation of contracts) Regulations 2009
  • Refund of motor vehicle deposits with the Consumer Fair Trading (Motor Vehicle Dealer Deposits) Regulations 2007
  • Opt-out under Consumer Fair Trading (Out-Out) Regulations 2007

The Small Claims Tribunals does not handle cases involving the following:

  • Hire purchase agreement
  • Employment matters
  • Loans
  • Purchase of stocks and shares
  • Recovering rent (except if it involves the lease / tenancy agreement for residential property of up to 2 years) or charters
  • Legal fees
  • Co-broking
  • Insurance claim
  • Motor-vehicle and road traffic claims for damage

You cannot split or divide a financial claim into separate, smaller claims of up to $10,000 (or $20,000) just to qualify for the Small Claims Tribunal.

The Small Claims Tribunals process generally takes place as follows:

  • To start a claim in the Small Claims Tribunal, you (the Claimant) have to file a Claim Form.
  • The other party whom you are claiming against is known as the Respondent.
  • Even if you have engaged a lawyer to advise you in a Small Claims Tribunal case, lawyers are not allowed to attend and represent parties at Small Claims Tribunals’ hearings and sessions.
  • Both the Claimant and Respondent must attend a Consultation before the Registrar who will try to mediate the disagreement first.
  • If the case cannot be resolved at Consultation, it will be fixed for Hearing on another day before a Referee.
  • At the Hearing, the Claimant and Respondent will each present to the Referee their cases, evidence, witnesses and reasons in support of their case.
  • After hearing both sides of the case and disagreement, the Referee will decide the case and issue his decision through a Court Order which both parties must obey and comply with.
  • For example, the Order of the Small Claims Tribunal can demand that the Respondent must pay an amount of money to the Claimant or that the Respondent must carry out certain works within a specified time-frame.
  • If the Respondent fails to pay the amount ordered, the Claimant can try to enforce the Order by obtaining a Writ of Seizure and Sale.

If the Claimant disagrees with the Referee’s decision, he can only submit an appeal against the decision if it involves a question of law or jurisdiction and this will be later handled by the High Court.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.