Default claim limit at Small Claims Tribunals raised to $20,000 from November

The size of claims can be raised further to $30,000 if the parties involved agree in writing, said the State Courts in a statement.
The size of claims can be raised further to $30,000 if the parties involved agree in writing, said the State Courts in a statement.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - From Friday (Nov 1), the size of claims that people can take to the Small Claims Tribunals has been doubled from the current default limit of $10,000 to $20,000.

This can be raised further to $30,000 if the parties involved agree in writing, said the State Courts in a statement.

The increased limit for claims filed at the tribunals is one of the amendments made to the Small Claims Tribunals Act to provide greater access to justice, the State Courts said on Friday.

The duration for making a claim will also be extended, from one year to two years. This applies to claims that arise from Nov 1, 2018.

The raising of the default limit at the tribunals was part of measures passed in Parliament in July last year.

At the time, Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong said the increase in claim limit is in line with countries such as Britain, Australia and Canada, and "will allow more parties to resolve their claims before the tribunals at less cost".

Mr Tong also said the extended two-year period will give people more time to negotiate and settle their disputes amicably while ensuring they have enough time to file their claim.

The Small Claims Tribunals, set up in 1985, hear cases on contracts for the sale of goods or the provision of services, claims in tort for damage caused to property as well as certain tenancy disputes.

Besides the raised claim limit, people can also take their hire-purchase claims to the tribunals if the claims are related to an unfair practice.

Hire-purchase agreements allow consumers to pay for goods such as household appliances through instalments.

Examples of unfair practices include a seller portraying a product to be of a certain quality or model, or presenting the product to be new, when it is not.

Another new measure that kicks in from Friday enables a registrar or tribunal to order parties to attend mandatory mediation at the Community Mediation Centre, or before any person.

A district court can also remit a matter to the tribunal for reconsideration or order a re-hearing by a different tribunal under certain limited circumstances.

In addition, the Small Claims Tribunals may order a tenant who has not paid rent to vacate the property besides paying the outstanding rent.

It can also order a party to pay the other party’s costs of the proceedings, including in a situation of an abuse of process such as frivolous claims or deliberate delays to the proceedings.