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A.  Effective Date of orders 

1.  Under the new Rules of Court 2021 (“ROC 2021”), where an order requires a person to pay money, to do or to stop doing an act or to perform a duty, the Court must give that person a reasonable time within which to comply unless the Court intends for these to be performed on the day that the order is given(1). Where there is no time specified, it is deemed that the order requires immediate compliance(2).

B.  Drawing Up of Orders

2.  Unless the Court otherwise orders and except where the order is for an extension of time or permission to amend any document, all orders must be drawn up and filed in Court(3). ROC 2021 requires the applying party to draw up the order regardless of the outcome of the application(4). Where there are multiple applications heard together, only one order for all the applications must be drawn up by the party who takes out the applications (5). ROC 2021 specifies that the applying party must send the draft order of court to the solicitor (if any) of all other parties within 14 days after the order is made and if the applying party fails to do so, any other party affected by the order may draw it up(6). The solicitors of the other parties must respond to the draft with their consent or their amended draft within 2 days, failing which they are deemed to consent to the draft(7).

C.  Redaction and Prohibition of Inspecting and Copying Orders

3.  ROC 2021 contains an express provision which empowers the Court to redact any order in the interests of justice or where the order was made in hearings which were conducted in private under any written law(8). Further, the Court is empowered to prohibit the inspection and taking of copies of any order by any person (other than the parties) for the same reasons(9).

D.  Applying for an Enforcement Order

4.  ROC 2021 consolidates all methods of enforcement into a single enforcement order. A party seeking to enforce a judgment takes out a single application for one or more methods of enforcement(10) and is known as the enforcement applicant. A party against whom an enforcement order is sought or made is the enforcement respondent(11). A non-party refers to a person against whom an enforcement order for attachment of a debt (ie, a garnishee order) is issued to attach a debt due from that person to the enforcement respondent(12). Some key changes in court terminology in relation to the enforcement of judgments and orders are set out in the table below. 

ROC 2014ROC 2021
Garnishee orderEnforcement order for attachment of a debt
Stay of executionStay of enforcement
Writ of executionEnforcement order
Writ of possessionEnforcement order for possession of property
Writ of seizure and saleEnforcement order for seizure and sale of property

5.  The enforcement applicant may apply to the Court by summons without notice for an enforcement order not earlier than 3 days after the Court order has been served on the enforcement respondent(13). The summons must be supported by an affidavit which contains the information set out in O 22 r 2(4) of ROC 2021. In particular, where there are multiple methods of enforcement sought, the enforcement applicant should state whether the Sheriff is to enforce them in any particular sequence or whether all or some methods are to be enforced simultaneously.

6.  The supporting affidavit must also contain a written undertaking from the enforcement applicant’s solicitors, if represented, or the enforcement applicant, if not represented. The undertaking is to indemnify the Sheriff against all claims, costs and expenses arising from complying with the enforcement order; to pay upon request all charges, commissions, expenses and fees incurred by or payable to the Sheriff in complying with the enforcement order; and to deposit the amount of money requested by the Sheriff before the Sheriff complies with the enforcement order and from time to time(14).

E. Validity and Effect of Enforcement Order

7.  An enforcement order is valid for 12 months beginning with the date of issue and may be extended by the Court for a period of 12 months if the application is made before the enforcement order would have expired(15). The priority of the enforcement order, the validity of which has been extended, is determined with reference to the date on which it was originally issued(16)

8.  The enforcement order ceases to be valid if satisfaction of the judgment is recorded by filing the consent of the judgment creditor or the enforcement applicant gives written notice to the Sheriff not to take further action on the enforcement order because the enforcement respondent has complied with all the terms of the Court order or for any other reason(17).

9.  An enforcement order authorises the Sheriff to(18):

(a) Seize and sell all property belonging to the enforcement respondent;

(b) Seize and deliver or give possession of property in the possession or control of the enforcement respondent; and 

(c) Attach a debt which is due to the enforcement respondent from any non-party, whether immediately or at some future date or at certain intervals in the future; and 

(d) To do anything specified in the Court order.

10.  A party who is liable under any Court order may apply for a stay of enforcement or stay of any enforcement order or any part of the order if there is a special case making it inappropriate to enforce the Court order immediately(19). The stay can be ordered for a specified period, or until the occurrence of a specified event(20).

F.  Methods of Enforcement

11.  Subject to O 22 r 6(11) of ROC 2021, all methods of enforcement, including the attachment of a debt due from a person to the enforcement respondent, are to be carried out by the Sheriff. Where the enforcement order does not specify the sequence of enforcement, the Sheriff may carry out its terms in any order and sequentially or concurrently, in the Sheriff’s discretion(21).  

12.  The Sheriff may effect seizure by(22):

(a) Taking physical possession of the movable property or affixing the Sheriff’s seal on the movable property;

(b) Affixing the Sheriff’s seal on the movable property and serving a notice of seizure on the person or entity having possession or control of the movable property or leaving a notice of seizure at the place where the movable property was seized;

(c) Posting a notice of seizure on some conspicuous part of the immovable property and entering and taking possession of the immovable property and, where applicable, serving a notice of seizure on the persons present and in actual possession or control of the immovable property;

(d) Serving a notice of seizure on the Singapore Land Authority in respect of title to the immovable property, and with the enforcement applicant separately registering the enforcement order and giving notice in writing to the Sheriff that the enforcement order has been duly registered;

(e) Serving a notice of attachment on the financial institution or on the non-party from which money is owed to the enforcement respondent; and

(f) Serving a notice of seizure on the person or entity which registers the ownership in respect of the bonds, shares or other securities, or which registers the membership in the club or society.

13.  Like garnishee proceedings, the Court may order the attachment of deposits in any financial institution representing a debt owing by the financial institution to the enforcement respondent. However, the attachment is regardless of whether the deposits have matured and despite any restriction as to the mode of withdrawal(23). The Court may also order the attachment of a debt owed by a non-party (including a financial institution) to the enforcement respondent whether immediately, at some future date or at certain intervals in the future(24).

G.  Claims and Objections to Seizure or Attachment 

14.  Where the enforcement respondent or any other person objects (referred to in ROC 2021 as “the objector”) to any seizure of property or attachment of a debt by the Sheriff, the objector must within 14 days of service of the notice of seizure or attachment file a notice of objection and serve a copy of the notice of objection on the enforcement applicant, the enforcement respondent (if not the objector) and any non-party served with the notice of attachment (if not the objector).(25) If the enforcement applicant accepts the grounds of objection, the enforcement applicant must give notice in writing to the Sheriff and the objector within 14 days of the objection that the enforcement applicant consents to the release from seizure of the specified property or the release from attachment of the specified debt, and the Sheriff must release the specified property or debt accordingly.(26) If the enforcement applicant, within 14 days of the objection, fails to consent to the release or gives notice of dispute, the Sheriff may direct the objector to apply to the Court for an order to release the specified property or debt.(27)

15.  If so directed by the Sheriff, the objector must apply by summons supported by affidavit within 7 days of the direction, failing which the objection is deemed to have been withdrawn.(28) The objector must also serve the summons and supporting affidavit on the enforcement applicant, the enforcement respondent (if it is not the objector), and any non-party served with the notice of attachment (if not the objector), at least 7 days before the time appointed for the hearing of the summons.(29) The objector must also give notice in writing to the Sheriff of the case and application number of the summons filed, at least 7 days before the time appointed for the hearing of the summons.(30)

H.  Examination of Enforcement Respondent

16.  An enforcement applicant may apply for the enforcement respondent to be examined orally in court and/or to make an affidavit on the properties which are owned by the enforcement respondent beneficially, whether in whole or in part or which the enforcement respondent will be entitled to in the future.(31)

17.  An application for examination is deemed to be enforcement of a Court order and within the terms of any written law or any order staying enforcement of that Court order.(32)          

I.  Sheriff’s Commission

18.  The Sheriff is entitled to a commission of 2% of the gross amount of deposits, money or debt attached; the gross proceeds of sale of properties ordered to be sold; and the gross proceeds of sale of the seized properties, subject to a minimum amount of $100 and a maximum amount of $50,000.(33)

19.  If property is seized or ordered to be sold but is not sold for any reason, the Sheriff is entitled to a commission of 2% of the estimated value of the seized property or the amount stated in the enforcement order to be due to the enforcement applicant (whichever is less), subject to a minimum amount of $100 and a maximum amount of $50,000.(34)

J.  Committal Proceedings

20.  ROC 2021 refers to a party that applies for or has obtained a committal order as the committal applicant and to the party against whom the committal order is sought or made as the committal respondent(35). ROC 2021 expressly provides for the Court’s power to order the Sheriff or any police officer to arrest and bring before the Court, as soon as is practicable, a committal respondent who fails to attend any proceedings in Court or who disobeys any order of the Court.(36)

21.  ROC 2021 expressly provides that the Sheriff may engage, or direct the applicant to engage, an auxiliary police officer or other security agency to assist in the discharge of the Sheriff’s duties. Any amount of money incurred as a result would be considered as part of the Sheriff’s charges, expenses and fees incurred in complying with a committal order.(37)

22.  ROC 2021 also requires that a written undertaking be given by the committal applicant’s solicitors or by the committal applicant (if not represented by solicitors) to pay upon request all charges, expenses and fees incurred by or payable to the Sheriff and the Singapore Police Force in complying with the committal order, and to indemnify the Sheriff and the Singapore Police Force against all claims, costs and expenses arising from complying with the committal order.(38) 

K.  Other Enforcement Methods 

23.  There are other enforcement modes under ROC 2021 and proceedings under the Debtors Act 1934(39) and the Distress Act 1934.(40) The processes for these enforcement modes remain broadly similar to that of their analogues under ROC 2014.

*This Digest highlights certain key features and points of note, which are intended to assist court users in navigating the Rules of Court 2021 (“ROC 2021”), and serves to provide general information only. Reference should always be made to the relevant provisions in the ROC 2021, any applicable written law and practice directions, and any applicable guidance that may be found in case law. This, and the other digests, do not, in any way, affect the Court’s exercise of its discretion. The Court may, based on the circumstances of each case, depart from the digests. The digests are not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice, and may be revised from time to time.

Footnotes

(1)O 17 r 2(2) of ROC 2021.

(2)O 17 r 2(3) of ROC 2021.

(3)O 17 r 3(1) of ROC 2021.

(4)O 17 r 3(3) of ROC 2021.

(5)O 17 r 3(4) of ROC 2021.

(6)O 17 r 3(5) of ROC 2021.

(7)O 17 r 4(1) of ROC 2021.

(8)O 17 r 4(2) of ROC 2021.

(9)O 17 r 4(2) of ROC 2021.

(10)O 2 r 14 of ROC 2021.

(11)O 22  r 1 of ROC 2021.

(12)O 22 r 1 of ROC 2021.

(13)O 22 r 2(3) of ROC 2021.

(14)O 22 r 2(4)(m) of ROC 2021.

(15)O 22 r 2(6) of ROC 2021.

(16)O 22 rr 2(7) and 3 of ROC 2021.

(17)O 22 r 2(8) of ROC 2021.

(18)O 22 r 2(2) of ROC 2021.

(19)O 22 r 13(1) of ROC 2021.

(20)O 22 r 13(2) of ROC 2021.

(21)O 22 r 6(2) of ROC 2021.

(22)O 22 r 6(4) of ROC 2021.

(23)O 22 r 2(2)(c) of ROC 2021.

(24)O 22 r 2(2)(c) of ROC 2021.

(25)O 22 r 10(1) of ROC 2021.

(26)O 22 r 10(3) of ROC 2021.

(27)O 22 r 10(4) of ROC 2021.

(28)O 22 r 10(5)(a) of ROC 2021.

(29)O 22 r 10(5)(b) of ROC 2021.

(30)O 22 r 10(5)(c) of ROC 2021.

(31)O 22 r 11(1) of ROC 2021.

(32)O 22 r 11(4) of ROC 2021.

(33)O 22 r 9(2) of ROC 2021.

(34)O 22 r 9(3) of ROC 2021.

(35)O 23 r 1 of ROC 2021.

(36)O 23 r 17 of ROC 2021.

(37)O 23 r 18 of ROC 2021.

(38)O 23 r 11(2)(b) of ROC 2021.

(39)O 37 of ROC 2021.

(40)O 40 of ROC 2021.

 


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