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Litigation: Comprehensive Guide & Process in Singapore

What is Litigation?

Litigation is a legal process where parties involved in a dispute present their case in a court of law to resolve disputes by enforcing their legal rights and responsibilities. Litigation involves a claimant (the party that is suing) and a defendant (the party being sued). The litigation process is overseen by a judge. In Singapore, we also have other dispute resolution methods like mediation and arbitration.

Mediation: Mediation is a process where an impartial third party (called the mediator) facilitates parties in disputes to have open discussions about the dispute assisting them to resolve the dispute amicably. Mediation is consensual – that is, both the parties in dispute must agree to openly discuss the dispute with a view to resolving it..

Arbitration: Abitration is an alternative to litigation. It is a process where parties have agreed even before a dispute arises to resolve any dispute between them by way of an arbitration. In an arbitration, usually the parties in dispute will appoint an arbitrator or arbitrators to hear the parties’ respective cases before a decision is made. Arbitration is also confidential.

Litigation process in Singapore

Pre-Action Stage

Prior to initiating litigation, parties may exchange demand letters or notices to encourage settlement and explore alternatives like mediation.

Initiation of Proceedings

Filing of Originating Claim: For civil cases, the process usually begins with the Claimant filing a Originating Claim and the Statement of Claim in the Courts. The Statement of Claim will set out the Claimant’s case against the Defendant.

Service of Documents: The Claimant then serves these documents on the Defendant who is then required to respond by informing the Court and the Claimant if the Defendant would be fighting the allegations. The Defendant then is required to set out his response to the Claimant’s allegation in his/her Defence.


Exchange of Documents: Parties are required to disclose all relevant materials eg. agreements, text messages, email communication etc that support the parties’ respective cases. These are called evidence.

Other Strategic Approaches And Affidavits of Evidence In Chief

Once discovery is completed by the parties, they may consider, as a matter of strategy, various avenues to bolster their cases. In some cases, even before the completion of discovery of documents, the Court may direct parties to inform the Court of the various strategic avenues that they intend to take in the litigation. If the dispute is proceeding for trial, parties are then required to file their Affidavit/s of Evidence In Chief. In the Affidavits of Evidence In Chief, each party will set out their case supported with evidence already disclosed in discovery.


At the trial, the parties through their appointed lawyers will present their respective cases to the Judge. The Judge would deliver his/her decision after hearing the respective cases and review of the evidence in support.

Post-Trial Stage

Appeal: Parties who are dissatisfied with the decision of the Judge who preside at the trial may appeal to the Appellate Division of the High Court and, where appropriate, to the Court of Appeal.

Enforcement of Judgments

If the losing party fails to comply with the decision of the trial Judge then, the victorious party may consider taking enforcement proceedings to compel the losing party to adhere to the decision of the trial Judge, for example, commence insolvency proceedings against the losing party so that the victorious party could recover the sums of monies which the trial Judge had ordered the losing party to pay.

Costs of Litigation

Generally, the losing party is responsible for paying the legal costs of the victorious party. The court may assess these costs, which can include legal fees and other expenses.

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Any information of a legal nature in this blog is given in good faith and has been derived from resources believed to be reliable and accurate. The author of the information contained herein this blog does not give any warranty or accept any responsibility arising in any way, including by reason of negligence for any errors or omissions herein. Readers should seek independent legal advice.

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