In response to a question in Parliament concerning legal costs for proceedings at the Small Claims Tribunals, the Minister of Law Mr K Shanmugam explained that costs for proceedings at the Small Claims Tribunals are kept low and that the total costs for enforcing an order of the Tribunals could be between $400 and $600. Claimants in difficult financial situations can apply to court to pay the legal costs after the matter or waive the costs completely.
The full text of the Minister’s answer:
1. Legal costs for proceedings at the Small Claims Tribunals are kept low as the process is straightforward and parties appear in person. A Money Order issued by the Tribunals is deemed to be a Magistrates’ Court Order, and can be enforced through a Writ of Seizure and Sale.
2. The filing fee for a Writ of Seizure and Sale to enforce the Tribunals’ order is to be paid by the claimant unless the Court orders otherwise. Currently, the filing fee is $80, which is about half the fee for a case filed under the Magistrates’ Court. In addition, there are other associated and ancillary fees, which may bring the total cost of enforcing the Tribunals’ Money Order to about $400 to $600. The claimant can recover these enforcement costs from the judgment debtor if the judgment debtor’s personal property is successfully seized and sold, and the proceeds of sale are sufficient to cover the costs incurred.
3. The claimant may also apply to the Registrar of the State Courts to waive or defer the payment of such costs. The Registrar will consider all the relevant facts in the specific case, including the claimant’s financial circumstances, in deciding whether to waive or defer such fees. The claimant will not be charged a fee for making a waiver or deferment application.
4. The Legal Aid Bureau may also provide legal aid for the execution of a Writ of Seizure and Sale, provided that the applicant satisfies the requisite means and merits tests.