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Civil litigation

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Civil Litigation is the legal process where there is a dispute between two parties and there are no criminal legal disputes. At Emerald Law, our Civil Litigation Lawyers specialise in helping you pursue or defend your legal rights. We have assisted countless individuals and SMEs and have even represented MNCs and Listed Companies in Singapore. We pride ourselves in being able to provide you with a clear solution which is affordable.

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Civil litigation is a term of art which refers to contentious Court proceedings involving non-criminal streams of actions in law.

 

The term therefore covers a wide range of disputes such as legal proceedings involving:

  • Breach of Contract
  • Shareholder Disputes
  • Misrepresentations, fraud and/or conspiracies
  • Defamation, libel & Slander
  • Negligence resulting in property damage
  • Negligence resulting in personal injury or death

Commencing a civil suit usually starts with the filing of a Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim in the Singapore Courts. Upon successful filing, the documents must be served on the defendant.

 

As proper service of the Writ of Summons is the means for notifying a defendant of a lawsuit, there are rules that must be complied with to ensure the service of the Writ of Summons is considered effective.

 

It should be noted that prior to commencing a civil suit, it may be necessary and/or desirable to first issue a legal letter such as a Letter of Demand to a would-be defendant.

Another way to commence a lawsuit (which is less common), is to file an Originating Summons in the Singapore Courts. This process is used when specifically required under the law or when the dispute in question does not involve any substantive factual dispute.

In Singapore, there are a few different Courts in which your matter may be heard in. 

  • claim valued at under S$20,000 it could be heard in the Small Claims Tribunal.
  • claim valued above S$20,000 and below S$60,000 it will be heard in the Magistrate's Court in Singapore.
  • claim valued above S$60,000 and below S$250,000 it will be heard in the District Court in Singapore.
  • claim valued above S$250,000  it will be heard in the High Court in Singapore.

It is important to note that Lawyers are not allowed to represent parties in the Small Claims Tribunal, however this does not prevent you from seeking advise from lawyers on how best to present your case.

A Writ of Summons is a Court document that notifies a defendant to a lawsuit that legal proceedings has commenced against him, and that he will be required to enter an appearance if he wishes to dispute it.

A Writ of Summons is usually not filed by itself, but together with a Statement of Claim which sets out the material allegations a claimant intends to prove in Court as such most defendants would be served the Writ of Summons together with a Statement of Claim.

It should be noted that a defendant will generally have eight days to file a Memorandum of Appearance upon being served with the Writ of Summons, and failure to do so can result in a default judgment being ordered against the defendant.

If you have received a Writ of Summons, it is essential not to ignore this and to seek a lawyer's advice, as the repercussions of failing to take appropriate action may result in a default judgment being entered against you. 

Click here to read our article dedicated on Writ of Summons.

A Statement of Claim is meant to set out in a concise manner, all the material allegations that a claimant intends to prove in Court, which if proven, entitles him to relief under the law. It is a crucial Court document which will be consistently referred to by the Court throughout proceedings.

A Statement of Claim is also important as it sets the tone for the rest of a lawsuit and helps set out the scope of a dispute. It impacts the rest of the proceedings such as discovery (i.e. disclosure of documents) as well as what would be considered relevant witness testimony and etc. For this reason, it is important to consider what content should or should not be included so that a Statement of Claim is persuasive, satisfies all legal requirements and is consistent with a good litigation strategy.

The consequences of a poorly drafted Statement of Claim can sometimes be very dire. A claim can sometimes fail completely even if it goes to trial if the Court finds that a Statement of Claim is defective. A claim can also be struck out completely before trial if a Statement of Claim lacks certain key details, even if lengthy. Irrelevant allegations may make a claim unclear and unpersuasive and may also result in the Court striking out such irrelevant parts. The Court will also likely order the claimant to pay costs to the defendant in these situations.

For the above reasons, it always beneficial to have a lawyer with a strong background in legal knowledge, litigation strategy and experience to assist you in drafting a Statement of Claim.

Proper service of the Writ of Summons is the means for notifying a defendant of a lawsuit. There are thus rules that must be complied with to ensure the service of the Writ of Summons is considered effective and valid.

A Writ of Summons must usually be served personally on an individual to be effective, and in relation to a company, left at the company’s registered address.

Where an individual or company is located overseas, different rules apply, and the manner effective service can be made will depend on where the said individual or company is located.

An issue that sometimes arises is that attempts to effect personal service on an individual may be unsuccessful. In such situations, the Court can order that alternative means be allowed. For example, a common method would be the Court allowing service to be affected by pasting the Writ of Summons on the defendant’s door. In more recent times, the Court has even allowed service to be effected through electronic means such as emails, Whatsapp messages, and through posts on social media.

Before you commence a lawsuit, you may wish to consider the following:

  • The strength and complexity of your case;
  • The likely cost involved in pursuing your claim; and
  • Whether the would-be defendant has sufficient assets to satisfy your claim.

 

Please click this link to watch a short video on things that you may wish to consider before commencing a lawsuit.

In making this decision, it is always helpful to have the assistance of the lawyer as it may be difficult for you to perform this assessment on your own.

Talk to us today so we can help you understand your case.

The overall cost to pursue legal proceeding against another person depends on a variety of factors but will largely be determined on how complex and time consuming a matter is. This is largely because lawyers typically charge based on how much time they spend or estimate they will have to spend on any given matter. For example, the cost to pursue a simple and straight-forward matter will be less than pursuing a matter that is complex and time consuming.

 

 

It should be noted that legal fees will generally be higher if a matter is before the High Court as opposed to the Magistrate Court, as the size of the dispute usually impacts how hard a matter is fought between parties.

 

In factoring in the cost of commencing a lawsuit, you should also consider that the total amount you will have to spend will ultimately depend on how long the dispute takes to be resolved and how far into legal proceeding parties’ take it. For example, a case that is only resolved after a trial will be far more costly then one that is resolved during mediation. In this regard, it should be noted that a vast majority of all cases are settled before a matter goes to trial, which is something you should factor in when considering cost.

 

To obtain a quote from our lawyers, contact us today.

Although a lawyer is not always necessary, legal disputes can be a complex and time-consuming process which may be challenging to handle effectively without the assistance of a lawyer.

As such, when deciding whether to engage a lawyer, consider conducting a cost-benefit analysis.

 

By engaging the services of a lawyer, the lawyer will be able to advise you on the strength of the case as well as weaknesses. This will help you decide how best to proceed with your case and the various strategic options available to you. Effective lawyering may also greatly improve your chances of success in the dispute as skill and experience are required to draft legal documents such as a Statement of Claim and to present your case effectively.

 

You should note that lawyers may have a variety of solutions to fit the size of your dispute. While you would probably want to engage a lawyer each step of the way for a complex dispute involving a large sum of money, you might only need your lawyer on a more limited basis for other matters.

 

As service providers, we understand that the size of the solution must fit the problem. As such, when you present us with a legal issue, we will always try to find a legal solution that would make sense for you.

A claim can be said to be small if it falls within the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunal. While lawyers are not permitted to represent you in the Small Claims Tribunal, we can through a paid consultation assist you to review documents and provide advice on how you can present your case to get the best possible result.

 

We understand that if your claim amount is small you might be thinking of simply abandoning your claim without consulting a lawyer. While we agree that your budget for legal cost should be commensurate to the size of a dispute and that for some claims, engaging a lawyer would not be feasible, it may be pre-mature to simply abandon a claim completely without first considering your options.

 

Engaging a lawyer on a limited basis can be beneficial for you in understanding the strength of your case and knowing whether a cost-effective solution is available for you. For example, sometimes it may take just some pressure such as by having a lawyer issue a letter of demand to compel a would-be defendant to settle your claim. This might be worth the while as it may give you at least an opportunity to succeed in your claim. In the event, the dispute cannot be resolved by way of correspondence, you may then wish to consider pursuing your matter in the Small Claims Tribunal.

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We provide service with such dedication that we can even arrange to meet you outside of our regular office hours.

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Our specialised lawyers and their team are standing by to assist you. Our first consultation is free.

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