About originating claims
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.
- Contract actions
- Examples include claims for damages resulting from a breach of contractual terms and obligations.
- Tort actions
- Examples include claims for damages in respect of property damage resulting from road accidents and negligence, or claims for damages resulting from fraud and defamation.
- Personal injury actions
- Examples include claims for damages in respect of personal injury or death resulting from road and industrial accidents or negligence.
- Intellectual property actions
- Examples include claims for damages resulting from the infringement of copyright, trademark or patent
- Admiralty and shipping actions.
You should file an OC for your civil action within the time limits from the date on which the event creates your cause of action as prescribed by law. A cause of action is the set of facts that entitles you to start a court action against another party.
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 should 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.
About the simplified civil process
The courts introduced the simplified civil process to facilitate the fair, quick and inexpensive resolution of disputes for certain cases.
It applies to:
- All civil cases heard in the Magistrate's Court begun by an OC.
- The Magistrate's Court hears civil cases where the claim amount does not exceed $60,000.
- Civil cases heard in the District Court begun by an OC if all parties consent to it.
- Parties have to file their consent in accordance with Form 3 of Appendix A1 of the State Courts Practice Directions 2021 via eLitigation for the simplified civil process to apply.
- In general, the District Court hears civil cases where the value of the claim is between $60,000 and $250,000, or up to $500,000 for road traffic accident claims or claims for personal injuries arising out of industrial accidents.
- The District Court can also hear cases where the claimant limits their claim to $250,000.
Refer to Start a civil claim by originating claim if either of the following applies to your case:
- Civil cases begun by an OC and heard in the General Division of the High Court.
- Civil cases begun by an OC and heard in the District Court where parties do not agree to the application of the simplified civil process.
Start a civil claim (simplified civil process) step-by-step
Refer to the following to find out about the simplified civil process and its key features.
If you are filing a claim against another party, you are the claimant.
The other party is the defendant.
File an originating process and pleadings
If you are the claimant, a civil action starts when you file and serve an OC together with written statements of facts about your claim called pleadings on the defendant.
File a request for a default judgment, if needed
You may enter a default judgment against the defendant if:
(a) They do 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 received outside Singapore.
(b) They file a notice of intention not to contest all or some of your claims in OC.
You may also enter a default judgment if the defendant does not file a defence (a type of pleading) within 21 days of receiving the statement of claim where is it received in Singapore, or within 5 weeks where it is received outside Singapore.
Attend court for pre-trial matters
Depending on the nature of your case, if the defendant wishes to contest your claim and files a defence, the court may notify the defendant and you to attend a civil simplified case conference (CC).
Attend court for trial
Most cases in the simplified civil process will proceed to simplified trials if parties are unable to resolve their dispute at the civil simplified CC.
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.
Attend court for post-trial matters
The court will decide the amount of costs and disbursements as may be payable between parties after court proceedings (including appeals) conclude.
Key features of the simplified civil process include:
During a simplified trial, the court may allocate strict time limits for parties to present their case.
- Discovery and inspection of documents.
- At discovery, parties are expected to reveal to each other documentary evidence that is relevant to the issues in the case. Instead of the parties making applications for discovery, it is the court that will manage these aspects of a case at the Civil Simplified CC along with other interlocutory matters.
- Summary judgment and disposal of case on point of law.
- The summary judgment procedure, which tends to be drawn out by parties through the sequential filing of affidavits, will no longer apply. Cases which warrant a summary process will be dealt with at the Civil Simplified CC and simplified trial.