Public Consultation on Proposed Amendments to the Small Claims Tribunals Act
21 Dec 2017 to 11 Jan 2018
Annex A - Details of Proposed Legislative Changes to the Small Claims Tribunals Act(162KB)
- The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) invites the public to give feedback on the proposed amendments to the Small Claims Tribunals Act (Cap 308) to enhance the Tribunals’ efficiency and effectiveness. This public consultation will run from 21 December 2017 to 11 January 2018.
The Small Claims Tribunals Act was enacted by Parliament in 1984. The Act established the Small Claims Tribunals (“SCT”) as an inexpensive and accessible forum to resolve small claims between consumers and suppliers. The SCT commenced operations on 1 February 1985.
The SCT currently has jurisdiction to hear claims up to $10,000, which can be extended up to $20,000 if all parties to the claim consent. The monetary limit of the SCT has remained unchanged since 1997. The last major change to the categories of cases that the SCT can hear was in 2009 when certain consumer claims under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (“CPFTA”) were included under the SCT’s jurisdiction.
Since the formation of the SCT, the number and complexity of cases heard at the SCT have increased. There have also been calls to expand the SCT’s jurisdiction so as to make it more accessible to more Singaporeans. It is therefore timely to update the Act to address such developments, as well as to strengthen the SCT’s operational framework.
- Amendments are proposed to enhance the SCT’s efficiency and effectiveness by (a) expanding and refining the SCT’s jurisdiction; (b) enhancing the SCT’s powers; and (v) improving the SCT case management processes. The details of each of the proposed amendments can be found in the Annex to this Consultation Paper. The key proposals are highlighted below.
(a) Expanding and refining the SCT’s jurisdiction
Amendments are proposed to raise the monetary limit of the SCT to $20,000 (by default) and to $30,000 (if all parties consent). These are broadly in line with the small claims limit in the UK, Australia and Canada, and better reflects inflation and the rising costs of living over the years.
Amendments are also proposed to expand the SCT’s subject matter jurisdiction to include hire-purchase claims under the CPFTA. In this regard, we have received feedback over the years that hire-purchase claims under the CPFTA should also be heard by the SCT given that the SCT already has jurisdiction to deal with other consumer claims under the CPFTA. This will enable Singaporeans to resolve hire-purchase claims under the CPFTA quickly and cost effectively at the SCT.
(b) Enhancing the SCT’s powers
Amendments are proposed to enhance the SCT’s powers to make certain orders in appropriate cases so as to facilitate the speedy and effective resolution of the cases before the SCT.
These include empowering the SCT to (i) adopt a judge-led approach during SCT proceedings, (ii) order parties to attend mediation, and (iii) award costs against parties in appropriate cases.
(c) Improving the SCT’s processes
Amendments are also proposed to improve the SCT’s current processes.
These include (i) allowing the SCT to issue its own practice directions, forms and guidance notes, (ii) re-designating SCT Referees as “Tribunal Magistrates”, and (iii) allowing the Presiding Judge of the State Courts to designate District Judges as Tribunal Magistrates of the SCT.
Invitation to give feedback
The public are invited to give comments and feedback on the proposed amendments to the SCT Act from 21 December 2017 to 11 January 2018. The details of the proposed amendments are set out in the Annex below.
Respondents are requested to observe the following guidelines:
- Indicate your name and organisation you represent (if applicable) as well as contact details (email address and/or telephone number) to enable us to follow up and seek clarification, if necessary;
- Focus your comments on how the proposed amendments can be made clear, how the policy changes can be improved, or whether the changes are necessary; and
- State clearly which specific proposals you are giving feedback on.
- Comments and feedback can be submitted via post or email as follows:
Legal Policy Division
Ministry of Law
100 High Street
#08-02, The Treasury
- The Ministry of Law can only consider comments and feedback that are received no later than 11 January 2018. We seek your understanding on this.
Last updated on 10 Jan 2018