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A Tribunal Hearing takes place in chambers (in private) before a Tribunal. A Tribunal is presided over by a Referee, who will direct the flow and manner of the proceedings as he deems fit.
All parties to a case must attend the Hearing. Failure to attend can result in an adverse order being made against the absent party - if you are a claimant, your claim may be dismissed; if you are a respondent, a default judgment may be entered against you.
During the Hearing, both parties will have a chance to present their cases to the Referee. The Referee will decide whether or not to call witnesses to give evidence. The Referee will make a decision on the merits of the case and in accordance with the law. At the end of the Hearing, the Referee may make:
An order by the Referee is binding on all the parties to the claim and enforceable as an order of the Magistrate's Court. Costs are not awarded to the winning party unless the Tribunals decide that a claim was either vexatious or frivolous.
If you are unsure of your legal rights and legal position, you should seek your own legal advice. The Tribunals and its staff cannot render any advice to a claimant as it must remain impartial to all parties at all times. You may wish to consider approaching the following for free or subsidised legal advice:
Parties may wish seek their lawyers' advice on whether a matter should be settled or proceed for Hearing.
For claims filed before 10 July 2017 (manually):
Prior to the Hearing, you may wish to prepare a chronology of events with supporting documents enclosed. Each page of the bundle should be numbered consecutively and each piece of evidence should be referenced in the chronology itself. A sample template may be found here.
Once the submissions have been prepared, you may make 3 copies – 1 for the Referee, 1 for yourself, and 1 for exchange with the opposing party. The Submissions for Hearing will only be exchanged if both parties are willing to exchange it.
For claims filed on or after 10 July 2017 (via CJTS):
Prior to the Hearing, you will have the option of completing the e-service "Submissions for Hearing" on CJTS. This online form allows you to prepare a chronology of relevant events and may assist with presenting a clear and coherent case for the Referee. The Referee will also be able to read these submissions in advance.
If both parties submit the Submissions for Hearing, the submissions will be given to the Referee and to the opposing party so each party is aware of the case against him. If only one party submits this e-service, the document will only be made available to the party who submitted the e-service as well as the Referee.
If you have any witness to give evidence on your behalf at the hearing, please ensure he or she attends at the Tribunals on the Hearing date and is present when asked to testify.
You must inform the Referee at the Hearing, of your intended witnesses and request that they be allowed to give evidence.
Your witnesses must be able to give relevant details relating to the claim. They would may be required to take an oath/affirmation of truth before the Referee before testifying.
Compelling a witness to attend Court. If your witness is reluctant or refuses to attend Court, you may apply to the Tribunals for a Summons to Witness to be issued. The application must be made at the time when the Notice of Hearing is served on you. For claims filed on or after 10 July 2017 (CJTS), you may login to CJTS to file an e-service for "Summons to Witness" at the earliest opportunity. The application is subject to approval of the Tribunals.
If you or your witness requires interpretation services, you should inform the Tribunals at the earliest opportunity. The State Courts will provide free interpretation services for the following languages:
For any other language(s) or special needs requiring interpretation services, please make your own arrangements at your own costs.
Be properly attired. No shorts or slippers are allowed in Court.
At the Tribunals' waiting area, take a Queue number for Hearing from the Queue machine. Wait for your Q number to be called and proceed to the Referee's Hearing chambers.
The Hearing will be conducted in private. During the Hearing, both parties will have a chance to present their cases to the Referee. The Referee will decide whether or not to call witnesses to give evidence.
The Referee will make a decision on the merits of the case and in accordance with the law. At the end of the Hearing, the Referee may make:
The Referee may call for further Hearing dates or may give judgment at a later date.
An order by the Referee binding on the parties and enforceable as an order of the Magistrate's Court.
Costs are not awarded to the winning party, unless the Tribunals decide that a claim was either vexatious or frivolous.
For more information about attending a Hearing, please refer to:
ABCs of Hearings Before a Referee
Brochure 2: Main Stages of a Small Claims Tribunals Case
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