A civil action begins when a party (the claimant) files a claim document called an originating process against another party (the defendant).
An originating claim (OC) is the most common example of an originating process. It is a formal document addressed to the defendant which serves to notify them of the proceedings.
Refer to the following for examples of civil actions and their respective time limits. Please note that the list serves as a general guide and is non-exhaustive. You may also refer to the Limitation Act for more information such as the date from which the time limit will commence.
If you are starting a...
You should file...
Within 6 years.
Within 6 years.
Personal injury action
Within 3 years.
Recovery of land and rent action
Within 12 years.
If you are the claimant, the amount you are intending to claim from the other party will determine which court you should file your OC in.
This section describes the civil process for the following cases:
Refer to the following to find out about the civil process begun by OC.
File an originating process and pleadings
If you are the claimant, a civil action starts when you file and serve an OC together with a written statement of facts about your claim on the defendant.
File a request for a default judgment, if needed
You may enter a default judgment against the defendant if you have filed a memorandum of service and either situation arises:
(a) the defendant does not respond to your OC by filing a notice of intention to contest or not contest within 14 days from receiving the OC where it is received in Singapore, or within 21 days where it is received outside Singapore; or
(b) the defendant states in the notice of intention to contest or not contest that the defendant does not intend to contest all or some of the claims.
You may also enter a default judgment if the defendant does not file a defence within 21 days of receiving the statement of claim where it is received in Singapore, or within 5 weeks where it is received outside Singapore.
Prepare the case for trial
The most common step after the close of pleadings is the production and exchange of documents. At the production of documents stage, parties are expected to produce to each other documentary evidence. The court may also order the parties to file the affidavits of evidence-in-chief of all or some of the witnesses before the production of documents.
The court may direct parties to attend a case conference relating to the matters arising in the action or proceedings.
File an interlocutory application, if needed
In further preparation of a case for trial, either party may also file interlocutory applications with the court. This is done by filing a summons, which should usually be supported by an affidavit. As far as possible, the court will order a single application pending trial (SAPT) to be made by each of the parties.
Set down the action for trial
Once all pre-trial matters have been dealt with, you must set the case down for trial to inform the court that you and the defendant are ready to fix the trial dates.
File an appeal or enforce judgment or order, if needed
If you are not satisfied with the court's judgment or decision after the trial, you may file an appeal.
You may also take steps to enforce an order or judgment if the defendant does not comply with it.