Low-Cost Dispute Resolution Options
Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC)
Mediation for Goods and Services Disputes
The SMC provides mediation, adjudication, neutral evaluation mediation or neutral evaluation services. It also resolves disputes involving Internet domain names (Singapore Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy Service), families (Collaborative Family Practice) and infrastructure projects (Singapore Infrastructure Dispute-Management Protocol).
Costs vary depending on the services rendered.
For mediation of disputes below $60,000, the fees start from $214 (inclusive of GST) per party for a four-hour session, with an hourly charge thereafter.
For neutral evaluation, the administrative fee costs between $749 and $2,140 (inclusive of GST), depending on the sum in dispute. There is also a neutral evaluator’s fee payable, which ranges from $500 to $1,200 per hour.
For more details and updated information, please refer to Singapore Mediation Centre website.
State Courts (Small Claims Tribunals)
Claims for goods, services or residential tenancy agreements not exceeding $30,000
The Small Claims Tribunals (the “Tribunals”) are part of the State Courts of Singapore and were established to provide a quick and inexpensive forum for the resolution of small claims between consumers and suppliers.
Filing fees depend on the claim amount, and whether you are applying as an individual.
For individuals, filing fees start at $10 (for claim amounts up to $5,000) and $20 (for claim amounts above $5,000 but up to $10,000). For claim amounts above $10,000, fees are 1% of the amount claimed.
The claim limit is $20,000 (or $30,000 if there is a Memorandum of Consent signed by both parties) and claims must be filed within 2 years of the incident.
For more details and updated information, please refer to the Small Claims Tribunal website.
Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management
Mediation for salary-related and wrongful dismissal claims, provides free basic legal clinic
The Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) is jointly set up by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF). TADM offers mediation and advisory services for employees and self-employed persons. TADM also works with partners to provide career assistance and free basic legal advice.
The non-refundable registration fees are:
- $10 per claim if you are claiming $10,000 or less
- $20 per claim if you are claiming more than $10,000
TADM provides mediation services for employees for salary-related claims that are covered by law, or in the employment contract. For employers, TADM will only provide mediation for notice pay, if an employee leaves without serving notice.
Time limit for claims depends on whether it is a salary-related claim, or wrongful dismissal claim. For the former, it ranges from 6 months to 1 year depending on whether you have left employment. For the latter, if it is non-maternity related, the time limit is within 1 month after your last day of employment. If it is maternity related, the time limit is up to 2 months from the birth of your child.
Maximum claim amount is
- Up to $20,000 per claim
- Up to $30,000 per claim for union members claiming with their union’s help
Local low-income employees will be assisted through the Short-Term Relief Fund if they are unable to recover unpaid salaries due to business failure. The fund broadly covers the bottom 20th percent of the workforce.
For more details and updated information, please refer to Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management website.
Ministry of Law (Legal Aid Bureau)
The Legal Aid Bureau (LAB) provides legal advice, legal assistance and legal aid.
You do not have to pay for legal advice. You may be required to pay a financial contribution to LAB for the work done for legal assistance or legal aid matters.
The amount of the contribution depends on your income and assets, the complexity of the case, and the type of work done. The total contribution usually does not exceed $1,650, but it may be more in certain exceptional cases. You will usually be asked to pay a first contribution which is half the total contribution payable in your case, before any work is done for your case. Upon completion of your case, you will need to pay the remaining sum as a second contribution.
You are also required to pay for fees incurred in obtaining and/or preparing various essential documents.
You may also have to pay the costs of the opposing party if you lose the case, unless you have been granted legal aid.
Legal aid is available to
- Singapore Citizens/PR
- Citizens or residents of contracting states who are involved in applications under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
For legal advice and assistance matters, you must pass the Means Test. For legal aid, you must pass both the Means and Merits Tests.
For more details and updated information, please refer to Ministry of Law (Legal Aid Bureau) website.