Do You Need A Civil Litigation Lawyer In Singapore?

Before we get into the direct answer whether or not you need a Civil Litigation Lawyer, let us explain the term what does civil litigation means here in Singapore;

What Is Civil Litigation?

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

Common disputes referred to as falling within the category of civil litigation include but is not limited to, contractual disputes, shareholder disputes, bankruptcy proceedings against individuals, winding-up proceedings against a company and claims in tort.

Such contentious Court proceeding are also commonly known as a civil suit.

Unlike criminal proceedings which are commenced by Singapore State against an accused, a civil suit is commenced by a party seeking relief from another party.

Who Can Commence A Civil Suit And Why?

A civil suit is a means for a party to seek the Singapore Court’s assistance for an order to be made in his favour, against another party for some other form of relief.

As such, barring any special circumstances (such as bankruptcy) and provided the Singapore Court has jurisdiction, any party who has a legal basis to claim a relief from another party may commence a civil suit.

things to consider before suing somebody in singapore

What To Consider Before Commencing A Civil Suit?

A civil suit can be an expensive and long drawn matter. As such, it is important to take into consideration the following factors before commencing a civil suit. And if you are planning to engage a lawyer, discuss these matters with them.

This will help you decide whether or not you should commence a civil suit. The factors include;

  • strength of your case
  • complexity of your case
  • quantum of your claim
  • the likely cost involved
  • will defendant have assets to satisfy your claim
1 – The Strength Of Your Case And Complexity

It is important to know in advance the strength of your case as well as its complexity. This will usually depend on the basis in law for your claim, and the evidence available to support your claim.

It is important to know this in advance so that you can estimate the prospect of a successful civil suit and the likely costs which will be involved.

For example; Generally, the weaker and more complex your case is the greater the likelihood the civil suit will be harder to win and the more expensive for you to pursue.

costs to consider before filing a civil suit in singapore

2 – The Quantum Of Your Claim And The Likely Cost Involve To Pursue The Case

The quantum of your claim and the likely cost involved to pursue is something you will want to consider, as the cost involved in pursuing a claim may quickly erode your gains from a successful civil suit.

As such, it may not make sense to pursue a complex civil suit if the quantum of the claim is relatively small, unless your aim is to sue as a matter of principle.

To make a proper assessment, it is a good idea to try and understand from your lawyers the likely cost involved from the outset and a fee estimate in advance.

You should be aware however, that for complex matters it would be difficult for a lawyer to provide an accurate upfront estimate as it may be difficult for the lawyer to know in advance the amount of work that will be required to be done for such matters.

This will usually depend on how parties choose to litigate the matter. In these circumstances lawyers will typically inform you of their hourly charge-out-rate.

3 – Additional Costs To Pay In Civil Suit

You should also be aware that in Singapore, the losing party to a civil suit would usually be also ordered by the Court to pay the winning party some of its costs in respect of the civil suit.

This means that if a plaintiff is successful in his claim, the defendant will usually in addition to the claim amount, also pay costs to the plaintiff.

Similarly, if the plaintiff is unsuccessful in his claim, or drops his case mid-way, he will usually have to pay the defendant costs. It should be noted however, that such costs awarded would usually be insufficient to fully cover all the professional legal fees (and other expenses such Court filing fees and disbursements) that you will need to pay your lawyers.

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4 – Whether The Defendant Has Assets To Satisfy Your Claim

Assuming you have considered your case carefully and intend to proceed with the civil suit, it is a good idea to also consider in advance whether the defendant will have assets to satisfy your claim.

This is because although the Court may make an Order in terms of your claim, it may end up being just a paper judgement if the defendant does not have enough assets to pay you.

For example – if you are aware that the defendant is already close to having a bankruptcy application being made against him, commencing and sustaining a civil suit against him might not make commercial sense.

It may be more efficient to simply file a proof of debt against his estate in bankruptcy. You should also be aware that in Singapore, enforcement proceedings cannot be taken against a defendant’s HDB Flat or CPF account.

You should however take with a pinch of salt, when a defendant claims that he does not have assets, as it is not uncommon for debtors to tell their creditors they have no assets to try and avoid having to make payment.

singapore business owner being sued in court

5 – Searching For Defendant’s Assets

In this regard, you should be aware that it is possible to conduct searches on individuals and companies to try and find out what property they might own, as well as whether there is ongoing litigation against them.

These searches can thus help you to assess the situation better. You should also be aware nonetheless, that it is also not uncommon for debtors to want to avoid being declared bankrupt if possible, and the threat of bankruptcy may convince a debtor to make payment either immediately or through a negotiated installment schedule.

If you are aware and have evidence that the defendant has assets but is dissipating them to frustrate the enforcement of a potential Court order against him, then it may be open for you to consider filing for a Mareva Injunction (a court order freezing defendant’s assets) in the Singapore Court to restrain the defendant from dissipating his assets.

Getting Professional Help In Civil Litigation Cases

As the above matters may be difficult to assess on your own, you may wish to discuss these issues with a lawyer who can help you better whether or not you should commence a civil suit in Singapore.

Depending on the complexity of your case, your lawyer may charge you for providing their professional legal advice in assessing your case.

However, if your case is straight-forward it is not uncommon for lawyers to provide you with a preliminary assessment of your case for free at the initial consultation, together with a fee estimate should you wish to engage them to pursue the matter further.

client ending a free consultation session with a singapore civil lawyer

Conclusion

Aside from the five issues discussed above (which is not meant to be exhaustive), you should also bear in mind that depending on the circumstances of your case there would be variety of other factors that may be relevant for you to consider before commencing a civil suit in Singapore.

As it is impossible to list down all the different circumstances and relevant factors that may be useful for you to consider. It is always advisable to ask your lawyer what are the things that matters when you want to consider a civil suit.

Do also bring to your lawyer’s attention, things that are important to you so that he can advice on how a civil suit might affect such matters.

If you find the above article informative and helpful, you may want to consider making an appointment with one of our lawyers, who can help guide you through this process so that you can make an informed and educated decision on whether to commence a civil suit.

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14 Comments

  1. Dear sir
    I’m Muhammad shabeer been accused by my colleague that I didn’t done now my name is bad I got evident that he accuses me .please give me some advice thanks

      • I would like to mention here with regard to my workplace the treatment that I face now.
        The incident happen on 26 july this yr a security lady whom working same company with me has pull forcefully my neck tie and the sling pass towards her which cause my neck pain.
        Since then my neck still pain on.and off I’m still taking painkillers.
        My question how to claim damages from her and my security company for two month didn’t do anything to her neither sack her.
        I had made a police report.
        Pls advice

      • I have issue on a male neighbor who has been giving issues to extent of defamation my name’s through social media…unfortunately I do not have the apps they are using and I have no concrete evidence to open a case…it’s been going on 2yrs and the emotional distress is taking in…I need help and investigations as none of the other neighbors are willing to help…

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    • I was being defamed for something I have not done and that person even threatened to come to my office to create a scene at my office.

      What should I do?

      • Hi Ms Neo, for any urgent assistance required and if you think that your safety is at stake, do call the Police hotline for immediate assistance.

        For legal matters, you may contact our lawyer directly at +6581822380 or you can also chat via Whatsapp – https://web.whatsapp.com/send?phone=6581822380 It will be easier for us to understand your case better. Thank You.

  2. Good morning. I am under intentional Harassment. The issue is under police investigation up to AGC level. Even after I’ve made police reports they have not stopped or back down. Every week they will come to my house.

  3. Good morning Sir,

    I would like to address my issues here on my previous company. I was being dismissed and given a month notice, in November. However, to-date I’ve not received my full salary, my OT and some medical claims. May u advise me further on this?

    Regards,
    Ely.

  4. My fren has a fall overseas when she bought a travel package with one of the established agencies in SG. She wants to know if she can sue the tour agency for compensation.

    • Hi Ms Ong, Please contact our lawyer directly at +6581822380 or you can also chat via Whatsapp Click Here – https://web.whatsapp.com/send?phone=6581822380 It will be easier for us to understand your case better. Thank You


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