Singaporeans can now file their small claims online from the comforts of their home rather than making a physical trip to the court, thanks to the launch of the first phase of the State Courts’ Community Justice and Tribunals System (CJTS) from today.
Talking about the special features of the new system, State Courts said in a press statement, “From filing a claim, to e-negotiating for a settlement, to obtaining a court order, the CJTS empowers parties through these built-in capabilities at their fingertips. Through the CJTS, parties can submit their Small Claims documents online, make payments online, and select their court date. Parties will also be able to view documents submitted by the other party and monitor their case developments online.”
The features of the new system will “reduce errors in filing, increase the likelihood of settling a dispute on (the claimants’) own terms, and save some time to attend court in order to resolve a Small Claims dispute”, while enhancing the quality of access to justice.
“Instead of expending a full day’s leave from work each time to attend to various Small Claims Tribunals matters, some components in the small claims process such as filing a claim, can now be reduced to as little as 15 minutes which can be easily exercised during a typical lunch hour,” added the press statement.
Gradually, the system will be progressively expanded to accommodate cases involving the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals and the Employment Claims Tribunals from the first quarter of next year.
Earlier, the small claims process was conducted in a largely manual fashion. Parties would have to go to the Small Claims Tribunals at the State Courts in person to file their claim and submit the relevant hard copy documents. They would then have to attend Mediation and Tribunal Hearings, before a Tribunal Order may be made.
The new system came as small claims tribunals saw a higher volume of more than 10,000 cases per year among State Courts Tribunals, said the State Courts.
A key development in the small claims process under the new CJTS, is the ability for parties to e-negotiate a settlement on a secure, confidential platform before the parties come to court.
For example, when a settlement offer is made by the respondent, the claimant will receive a notification to log on to consider the offer or make a counter offer.
If an amicable settlement has been reached through e-negotiation, the parties may apply online for a Tribunal Order directly from the system without having to come to court. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement via the CJTS, the claim will then proceed to the consultation and hearing stages of the Small Claims process.
However, if the parties are unable to reach a settlement via the CJTS, the claim will then proceed to the consultation and hearing stages of the Small Claims process.
Individuals can access the CJTS with their SingPass, and corporate entities with their CorpPass.
Before a claim form and its supporting documents can be submitted, however, claimants will have to take a pre-filing assessment to ensure that they are ready to proceed with filing a claim, said the State Courts.
“Once a claim is filed, claimants will be able to choose their preferred court date within a fixed given period to give parties more flexibility in arranging their schedules,” it added.