About Writs of Summons

A civil action begins when a party (the plaintiff) files a claim document called an originating process against another party (the defendant).

A Writ of Summons (Writ) 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.

You should file a Writ if your civil action involves substantial disputes of fact. These may include, but are not limited to:
  • 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 a Writ 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 causeof 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...

Contract action

Within 6 years.

Tort action

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 a Writ.
    • 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 a Writ if all parties consent to it.
    • Parties have to file their consent in accordance with Form 233 of the Rules of Court 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 plaintiff limits their claim to $250,000.
Note

Refer to Start a civil claim by Writ of Summons if either of the following applies to your case:

  • Civil cases begun by a Writ and heard in the General Division of the High Court.
  • Civil cases begun by a Writ 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 plaintiff.

The other party is the defendant.

Start a civil claim

File an originating process and pleadings

If you are the plaintiff, a civil action starts when you file and serve a Writ together with written statements of facts about your claim called pleadings on the defendant.

After the closing of pleadings

File a request for a default judgment, if needed

You may enter a default judgment against the defendant if they do not respond to your Writ by filing a memorandum of appearance (MOA) within 8 days from receiving the Writ. This is also known as entering an appearance. You may also enter a default judgment if the defendant does not file a defence (a type of pleading) within 14 days of entering an appearance.

Resolving the dispute

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 case management conference (CMC).

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 CMC.

After a judgment is made

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.

2021/10/13

Key features

Key features of the simplified civil process include:

The purpose of this rule is to ensure that every party has the fullest possible particulars of the other party’s case at an early stage of the proceedings, in order to facilitate a resolution of the dispute.
Depending on the nature of the case, parties may have to attend a CMC before a judge who will assist them in the management of their case at an early stage of the proceedings.
Every case dealt with at the CMC is encouraged to explore suitable alternative processes to resolve their dispute without going to trial.
If parties are unable to resolve their dispute and their case has to proceed for trial, the court may give directions for a simplified trial.

During a simplified trial, the court may allocate strict time limits for parties to present their case.

Parties are not able to make interlocutory applications for:

  • 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 CMC along with other interlocutory matters.
  • Interrogatories.
    • Interrogatories are formal questions posed by one party which the other party must answer under oath. Instead of the parties making applications for interrogatories, it is the court that will manage these aspects of a case at the CMC 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 CMC and simplified trial.

Resources

Refer to the Guide to Common Civil Justice Processes(PDF, 1476 KB).
Legislation associated with this topic includes Order 108 of the Rules of Court.
Refer to Part III of the State Courts Practice Directions for the simplified process for civil proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court.


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