What to do if you receive an Originating Claim?

What is an Originating Claim?

As of 1 April 2022, writs of summons are now known as originating claims.

An Originating Claim is a formal legal document that needs to be filed by the claimant and issued by the Singapore Courts for the purposes of commencing a civil lawsuit in Singapore. The Originating Claim is usually accompanied by a Statement of Claim, which will outline the claimant’s material factual allegations and the remedy being sought from the Courts.

The Originating Claim is thus the starting point for a civil lawsuit in Singapore. When it is served together with the Statement of Claim by the claimant on a defendant, the defendant must file a Notice of Intention to Contest if he intends to challenge the lawsuit.

How do I defend against a lawsuit started by way of an Originating Claim?

When the Notice of Intention to Contest must be filed

To defend against a lawsuit stated by way of an Originating Claim, the defendant must file a Notice of Intention to Contest in Court within 14 days of being served the Statement of Claim (within 21 days if the defendant is served outside of Singapore). 

Failure to file the Notice of Intention to Contest within the required timeline can result in the claimant obtaining a default judgement as the Court may proceed to on the basis that the defendant does not intend to defend the lawsuit.

When the Defence filed and the required form?

After the Notice of Intention to Contest is filed, the defendant must still file a Defence in order to contest the lawsuit. This must be done within 21 days upon the Statement of Claim being served on the defendant (within 5 weeks if the defendant is served outside of Singapore).

Failure to file the Defence within the required timeline can also result in the claimant obtaining a default judgement.

It is also useful to note that the Defence should be filed in the correct form, which is available from the Court’s practice directions. Failure to file the Defence in the appropriate form may result in the claimant successfully striking out the Defence and obtaining judgment.

In filing your Defence, it is also important that the Defence accurately sets out your position on material allegations made against you in the Statement of Claim and also adequately advances actual allegations that are material for the defence you are pursuing. In this regard, filing an inaccurate and/or inadequate Defence may negatively affect your case as it may result in the Claimant being able to later argue that your position is inconsistent or that certain allegations you make later are merely afterthoughts. This may undermine your credibility before the Court which will negatively affect your case. As such, it is usually useful to consult a civil litigation lawyer who would be able to advise you on your options and assist in drafting your Defence.

What if there is a Counterclaim? 

 If the defendant has a claim to make against the claimant, the defendant can consider filing a Counterclaim so that the defendant’s claim against the claimant will be dealt with during the lawsuit.

If the defendant wishes to file a Counterclaim, the defendant should do so at the same time the Defence is filed.

Immediate Steps Upon Receiving an Originating Claim and Statement of Claim

  1. Don’t Ignore It: One of the most crucial aspects of dealing with an Originating Claim and Statement of Claim is not to ignore it. Ignoring the Originating Claim and Statement of Claim can result in a default judgement being entered against you in favour of the claimant. It’s therefore essential to take this document seriously.
  2. Contact a Lawyer: Seek legal advice as soon as possible. A lawyer experienced in Singapore civil litigation law can help you understand the claim. They can also help assess your situation, and advise you on the best course of action and draft your Defence in a manner that is in line with a well thought out defence strategy.
  3. Comply with the Timelines: The Originating Claim will specify a time frame within which you must respond. Usually within 14 days of being served the Statement of Claim you will need to file a Notice of Intention to Contest and within 21 days of being served the Statement of Claim you will need to file your Defence. Failure to adhere with these timelines can result in adverse consequences such as a default judgement being entered against you.
  4. Consider Settlement: In some cases, it may be beneficial to explore settlement options to resolve the dispute without going through lengthy court proceedings. Your lawyer can guide you through this process.

 

Resolution and Protecting Your Rights

Lawsuits in Singapore can be lengthy and complex. It’s crucial to remain engaged in the process, communicate with your lawyer, and explore resolution options whenever possible. For example, mediation and settlement discussions may lead to a more favourable outcome without the need for a full trial.

Remember that receiving the Originating Claim is just the beginning of a legal journey, not the end. Your active involvement and proper legal representation of your case will be key to protecting your rights throughout the litigation.

In conclusion, when you receive an Originating Claim in Singapore, it’s important to take the matter seriously and respond appropriately and in good time. Seek legal advice promptly and follow the legal process diligently. Understanding your rights and obligations as a defendant is crucial in navigating the complexities of civil litigation. Legal proceedings may take time, but with the right approach, you can work towards an outcome that meets your objectives.

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