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About small claims proceedings

Both parties involved in a Small Claims Tribunals (SCT) claim must first attend a consultation, where a registrar will attempt to resolve the dispute. If the matter cannot be settled, the claim may proceed to a hearing before a tribunal magistrate.

Attendance is compulsory

Both the claimant and the respondent must attend every consultation and hearing.

The SCT will inform you of the date, time and venue of your court session through the Community Justice and Tribunals System (CJTS).

If you are absent, the court may make a default order against you.

  • If you are the claimant, your claim may be dismissed.
  • If you are the respondent, an order may be made in the claimant's favour.

Both the claimant and the respondent can apply to change a court date. All applications are subject to the SCT's approval.

You may apply in CJTS. Under the Online Applications tab, select Request for Change of Court Date. You should upload supporting documents for the SCT's consideration.

You should apply as soon as possible so that there is sufficient time for the court to process your application.

If your application is approved, the court will inform both you and the other party of the new court date. If you do not receive a response, you must attend the court session as scheduled.

Who can represent you

Note
Lawyers are not allowed to represent parties in a small claims consultation or hearing.
Party involved Who must attend court

Individual

The person named as the claimant or respondent in the claim.

Sole proprietorship

The sole proprietor of the business.

Unincorporated association

A member of the governing body or any full-time employee.

Limited liability partnership

A partner, manager, other officer of similar authority, or any full-time employee.

Partnership

A partner or any full-time employee.

Body corporate

A director, chief executive, manager, secretary, other officer of similar authority, or any full-time employee.

Representatives for companies, partnerships or associations will need to:

  • Present the case to the SCT clearly, correctly and concisely.
  • Produce to the SCT all relevant documents supporting the case.
  • Have sufficient authority to bind the party they are representing based on what they say and do.
  • Have sufficient authority to make decisions to settle the claim if the proposed solutions are acceptable.

Individuals may apply to be represented by someone else if they are unable to present their case due to old age, illiteracy or infirmity (weakness) of mind or body.

The application can be made online in CJTS. Under the Online Applications tab, select Application for Representative. This is subject to the SCT’s approval. The representative needs to be authorised by the original party and approved by the SCT.

Checklist before going to the SCT

Refer to the following on what you should prepare before attending a consultation or hearing.

Prepare the explanation for your case

You should be prepared to explain your case to the SCT. If your claim or defence consists of smaller parts, you have to explain every individual part in detail.

Example: You should be able to explain every invoice that makes up your claim or the different defects raised in a renovation case.

Submit all your supporting evidence

You should submit all the evidence you want the SCT to consider.

  • If the evidence is in the form of a document, you should upload it on CJTS.
  • If the evidence is an audio or video recording, you should copy it onto 2 CDs and submit 1 CD each to the State Courts Central Registry (State Courts, Level 2) and the other party. You can do so in advance or during the first consultation.
    • You should also prepare a transcript of audio recordings and upload it on CJTS.

(Optional) Prepare witnesses for a hearing

If your case proceeds to a hearing, you may call witnesses to give evidence on your behalf. Witnesses must give evidence on facts relevant to the claim.

If you wish to call witnesses, you should do all of the following:

  • Contact them in advance and check that they are willing to attend court.
  • During the consultation, inform the registrar of the witnesess you intend to call. The registrar will consider the availability of witnesses when deciding when to schedule the hearing.
  • In court during the hearing, inform the tribunal magistrate that you have witnesses that you intend to call. The tribunal magistrate will decide whether to allow the witnesses to give evidence.

Note: If your witnesses are reluctant to attend court, you may file a Summons to Witness via CJTS to compel them to attend. Under the Online Applications tab, select Summons to Witness Form. You should apply at least 3 days before the hearing date. This application is subject to the SCT’s approval.

(Optional) If you need an interpreter

If you or your witnesses are not comfortable communicating in English, you should ensure that you do the following, depending on the language you need:

Language needed

What to do

Mandarin, Hokkien, other local Chinese dialects, Tamil or Malay

Indicate your preferred language via CJTS or during the consultation. The State Courts provide free interpretation services for these languages.

Other languages

Arrange and pay for your own interpreter.

Alternatively, you may apply for a family member, friend, or volunteer to attend court to assist with interpretation. Find out more about the Community Courts and Tribunals (CCT) Friend Scheme.

Identification documents

Bring all your identification documents to court. This includes your:

  • NRIC or passport.
  • Employment pass (if applicable).

Supporting documents

Bring the originals for all documents uploaded on CJTS. Examples include contracts, invoices and stamp duty certificates.

If there are documents you have not uploaded on CJTS, prepare at least 3 copies of the documents so they can be given to the other party and the SCT.

Translation of documents

All documents that are not in English should be accompanied by English translations.

(If you are the claimant) Declaration of Service

If you have filed a claim, ensure you have uploaded the Declaration of Service on CJTS and bring a copy to court. This shows that you have brought the claim to the attention of the other party.

(If you are representing a corporate entity) Authority

Ensure that you are allowed to represent the party you are representing, and have full authority to make decisions on their behalf.

Check that you have uploaded the Letter of Authorisation on CJTS and bring the original copy to court.

You must be properly attired for court proceedings. Shorts and slippers are not allowed.

Find out more about the attire and etiquette expected in court.

Going to court with a family member, friend or volunteer

You may apply for a family member, friend or volunteer from a pro bono agency to accompany you in proceedings at the tribunals through the Community Courts and Tribunals (CCT) Friend scheme.

This request is subject to the SCT's approval. Find out about the CCT Friend Scheme and how to apply.

Need help?

The information here is for general guidance as the courts do not provide legal advice. If you need further help, you may want to get independent legal advice.

Find out more

Resources

Refer to A Guide to Small Claims (PDF, 716 KB).

Legislation associated with this topic includes:

Related questions

No, there are no charges for attending small claims consultations or hearings.

2021/07/23

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