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askST: Why do commercial tenancy disputes fall outside the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunals?

Reader Jennie Shue wrote to askST: "Why do commercial tenancy disputes fall outside the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunals, even if it is just $10,000?"

Senior Law Correspondent K. C. Vijayan replies.

The Small Claims Tribunals, part of the State Courts of Singapore, is meant to settle spats between consumers and suppliers.

There is a checklist at the State Courts website and rental issues are specifically omitted.

Tenancy involves contracts which may involve complex issues of interpretation which a Small Claims Tribunal is not designed to settle.

For tenancy disputes, parties involved can apply to the State Courts, where civil claims for the sum involved will be dealt with in a Magistrates' Court.

There is also the option of the Small Case Commercial Mediation Scheme (SCCMS), which provides mediation services to help parties settle commercial disputes where the sum of claim is $60,000 or less. Disputes falling into this category include cases involving tenancy, car repairs, unpaid salaries and renovation matters.

This service, provided by the Singapore Mediation Centre, is designed to be affordable. The first two hours of mediation are free. Thereafter, the fee starts from $80.25 (inclusive of GST) depending on the size of your claim. For a full fee schedule, go to the Centre's website.

You can begin a mediation process just by filling out an application form on the website and e-mailing it to them at enquiries@mediation.com.sg.

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