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What is an Originating Summons

A civil action begins when a party (the plaintiff) files a claim document called an originating process against another party (the defendant). This document can either be a Writ of Summons (Writ) or Originating Summons (OS).

You should file an OS for your civil claim if it is required by law or concerns matters of law where there is unlikely to be any substantial dispute of facts.

Jurisdiction of the courts

If you are the plaintiff, the amount you are intending to claim from the other party will determine which court you should file your OS in.

Refer to the following to find out the jurisdiction of the courts based on claim amounts.

If the value of your claim is...

Your case should be filed in the...

Lower than $60,000

Magistrate's Court.

  • Between $60,000 and $250,000
  • (For road traffic accident claims or claims for personal injuries arising out of industrial accidents) Up to $500,000

District Court.

  • More than $250,000
  • (For road traffic accident claims or claims for personal injuries arising out of industrial accidents) More than $500,000

General Division of the High Court.

Key facts

Refer to the following to find out how to file and serve an OS.

When to serve

  • (If the OS is served on a defendant in Singapore) As soon as possible, and in any event, no later than 6 months from the date the OS is issued.
  • (If the Writ is served on a defendant outside of Singapore) As soon as possible, and in any event, no later than 12 months from the date the OS is issued.

How to file

Through eLitigation.

What you will need

You will have to prepare the following before you file:

All OSes must include either of the following prayers:

  • A statement of the questions on which you seek the determination or direction of the court.
  • A concise statement of the relief or remedy you are claiming for with sufficient details to identify the causes of action in respect of the relief or remedy which is being claimed.

Estimated fees

Refer to the following to find out the possible fees for filing the documents. You may also refer to Appendix B of the Rules of Court for the full list of court fees.

In addition to the fees listed in the table, there are also other fees payable to the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau.

Item or service

Fees

File an OS

$100

File an affidavit

$1 per page, subject to a minimum fee of $10 per affidavit

Serving an OS on the defendant

  • (If service is done by a court process server) $15
  • (If service is done by a lawyer or a lawyer’s clerk) Contact a lawyer directly to find out their fees
In addition to the fees listed in the table, there are also other fees payable to the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau.

Item or service

Fees

File an OS

$150

File an affidavit

$1 per page, subject to a minimum fee of $10 per affidavit

Serving an OS on the defendant

  • (If service is done by a court process server) $30
  • (If service is done by a lawyer or a lawyer’s clerk) Contact a lawyer directly to find out their fees
Refer to the following for the filing fees if your claim is up to $1 million. In addition to the fees listed in the table, there are also other fees payable to the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau.

Item or service

Fees

File an OS

$500

File an affidavit

$2 per page, subject to a minimum fee of $50 per affidavit

Serving an OS on the defendant

  • (If service is done by a court process server) $50
  • (If service is done by a lawyer or a lawyer’s clerk) Contact a lawyer directly to find out their fees

Refer to the following for the filing fees if your claim is more than $1 million. In addition to the fees listed in the table, there are also other fees payable to the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau.

Item or service

Fees

File an OS

$1,000

File an affidavit

$2 per page, subject to a minimum fee of $50 per affidavit

Serving an OS on the defendant

  • (If service is done by a court process server) $50
  • (If service is done by a lawyer or a lawyer’s clerk) Contact a lawyer directly to find out their fees

How to file and serve

You may choose to file the documents personally or through a lawyer. If you are represented by a lawyer, the documents will be filed by your lawyer.

If you are representing yourself, you must file the documents through eLitigation at the LawNet and CrimsonLogic Service Bureau.

You must follow the Rules of Court and the State Courts Practice Directions or the Supreme Court Practice Directions to prepare your documents before heading down personally to do the filing.

Refer to the following steps to file and serve your OS.

Step

Result

1. File your OS

The respective court accepts or rejects your OS application.

2. Collect the approved OS

You will receive a copy of the sealed OS via eLitigation.

3. Serve OS on the defendant

 

The defendant is notified of your claim.

(If applicable) 4. File and serve an affidavit

 

The defendant is notified of the evidence you are relying on for your claim.

You will have to file your OS via eLitigation at the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau. Your OS will then be submitted to the respective court for review.

The LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau will notify you via email or SMS of the outcome of your submission.

If the court accepts your OS, a copy of the approved OS containing the respective court's seal and registrar's signature will be issued via eLitigation.

You will have to collect the approved OS from the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau and arrange for it to be served on the defendant.

After the sealed OS has been issued by the court, it has to be served personally on the defendant as soon as possible, no later than 6 months from the date the OS is issued if the defendant is located in Singapore.

If the defendant is located outside of Singapore (out of jurisdiction), the sealed OS has to be served on the defendant as soon as possible, no later than 12 months from the date of issue. Refer to How to serve court documents to find out the process of serving documents out of jurisdiction.

Note

In general, personal service of a document means that a sealed copy of the OS is personally delivered to the defendant. If the defendant is a body corporate, the Writ should be delivered to their registered address.

If you do not serve the OS within these time periods, you will have to apply to renew the OS. If successful, the court may renew the OS for up to 6 months.

Who can serve

In general, if you are representing yourself, you cannot serve the OS on the defendant on your own.

Only the following persons may provide personal service of the OS:

  • A lawyer or a lawyer’s clerk whose name and particulars have been notified to the court to serve the OS.
  • A process server of the court.
    • You will have to fill up a form and pay the necessary fees at the State Courts Central Registry (for District Court cases) or the Legal Registry of the Supreme Court (for General Division of the High Court cases) before making an appointment for the court process server to serve your documents.
    • You will have to arrange for transport and pay the required transport charges (if applicable) for the process server of the court on the appointed date of service.

If personal service is unsuccessful

You may apply for substituted service if 2 reasonable attempts at personal service have been unsuccessful. Substituted service is subject to the court's approval.

Your application must be made by a summons supported by an affidavit prepared in accordance with Form 137 of the Rules of Court.

In your affidavit, you should include:

  • Your proposed mode of substituted service.
  • The reasons why it is impracticable to effect personal service.
  • The reasons why you believe your proposed mode of substituted service will be effective in bringing the Writ to the notice of the defendant.

Modes of substituted service of the Writ include (but are not limited to):

  • Posting it on the door or gate of the defendant’s home or place of business.
  • Sending it by registered mail to the defendant's last known residential or registered address.
  • Sending it by electronic mail or internet transmission.
Unless otherwise provided by the law, if you intend to adduce (offer) evidence in support of the inter parte OS you have filed, you must file an affidavit and serve a copy on the defendant within 7 days after the service of the OS.

The defendant may also choose to adduce evidence with reference to the OS served on them. They can do so by filing an affidavit and serving a copy on you within 21 days after being served a copy of your affidavit.

After you file

Refer to the following to find out what happens after you file an ex parte or inter partes OS.

If you filed an ex parte OS, your application will be scheduled for a hearing before the court. If the court is satisfied that your application is in order and all other requirements have been complied with, the court may make an order in terms of what you applied for.

You will be notified of the outcome of your application via email or SMS. If your application is successful, you will have to collect the sealed OS at the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau.

If you have filed an inter partes OS, you will be notified of the outcome of your application via email or SMS. If your application has been accepted, you will have to collect the sealed OS at the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau and arrange for service of the sealed OS on the other party.

You and the defendant must attend court for an OS hearing on the time and date stated in the OS. It is during the hearing that the court may make the order you applied for.

At your OS hearing

After hearing the arguments from the parties or their lawyers (if any) and assessing all the facts and evidence in the documents that have been filed, the court may then make any of the following orders:

  • Make an order in your favour.
  • Make an order to dismiss the matter.
  • Adjourn the hearing to a later date.
  • Ask for further evidence to be filed or for witnesses to be cross-examined.
  • Make an order for the matter to proceed to trial.
  • Make an order for the proceedings to continue as if the case was begun by a Writ of Summons (Writ).
    • The court may decide to convert an OS into a Writ if there are substantial disputes in the claim. If the OS is converted into a Writ, the steps relating to a Writ will apply.
Note
If the defendant alleges that they have any claim or is entitled to any relief or remedy against you in respect to the OS, they may inform the court of their intention to make a counterclaim during the OS hearing.

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:

Related questions

Either the plaintiff or defendant can file an application via eLitigation to convert an OS into a Writ at any stage of proceedings.

Once the decision to convert has been made, the steps relating to a Writ applies.


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