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.
- 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...
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 CMC along with other interlocutory matters.
- 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.