Is it even worth the hassle?
But if you find yourself in an unresolvable consumer dispute in Singapore, here are some guidelines in the unfortunate event you need to approach the Small Claims Tribunals for some help.
What exactly is the Small Claims Tribunals?
A part of the State Courts of Singapore, the Small Claims Tribunals provides a quick and inexpensive forum to resolve small claims (not exceeding $10,000 but if there is an agreement between the claimant and respondent, it can be raised to $20,000) between consumers and suppliers.
When can I file a claim at the Small Claims Tribunals?
All claims must be filed at the Small Claims Tribunals within one year from the date of the incident.
How can I find out whether my claim can be heard at the Small Claims Tribunals?
Refer to this checklist for the categories of the claims. It includes disputes pertaining to deposits or rental issues, and any transactions between businesses and products or services purchased for business use.
Will I need to engage a lawyer?
Lawyers are not allowed to represent any of the parties in proceedings before the Tribunals, and costs are not awarded to the winning party unless the Tribunals decide that a claim is frivolous or vexatious.
How do I go about filing a claim in the Tribunals?
To file a claim at the Tribunals as a consumer, you are required to pay a lodgment fee as follows:
Less than $5,000: $10
Between $5,000 and $10,000: $20
Between $10,000 and $20,000: 1% of claim amount
You can download the claim forms here.
What is the process like?
After a claim is lodged, the Tribunals will fix the claim for a consultation or mediation before the Registrar or Assistant Registrar within 10 or within 14 days from the date of filing to try and get an amicable settlement.
If a claim is not settled at the consultation, it will generally be fixed for hearing before a Referee within seven or within 10 days from the date of consultation.
But for a tourist claim, the Tribunals may fix both the consultation and the hearing within 24 hours of filing of the claim.
What happens at the consultation?
At the consultation before the Registrar, the Registrar will mediate the claim, and help the parties resolve the dispute. If the claim is fixed for hearing before the Referee, the Referee may also explore the possibility of settlement before adjudicating the claim. Generally, mediation is extensively employed in the proceedings.
I filed a claim but managed to resolve the matter before the consultation date. What should I do now?
If you wish to withdraw the claim, you will have to write in to the Tribunals to inform them about the settlement.
By Muneerah Bee, November 2016