​What is a Magistrate’s Complaint?

A Magistrate’s Complaint is filed by a person who wishes to commence Private Prosecution. Private Prosecution is the pursuit of criminal legal proceedings by a private individual, who believes that an offence has been committed against him.

Once a Magistrate’s Complaint has been filed, the person filing the Magistrate’s Complaint is referred to as the Complainant. The person against whom the Magistrate’s Complaint is filed is referred to as the Respondent.

What kind of cases may be dealt with via a Private Prosecution?

Private Prosecution is generally only applicable to criminal offences which are punishable with a maximum imprisonment term of up to three years and/or a fine.

If your case falls under the following list (which is not exhaustive), it may not be accepted for filing as it is not one which the Private Prosecution process can deal with:

  • Where the act complained of is not a criminal offence
  • Where the offence carries an imprisonment term exceeding 3 years
  • Where the Respondent has already been charged in Court by the State in respect of the act complained of
  • Where the Respondent has been issued a stern warning by the State in respect of the act complained of

Should I file a Magistrate's Complaint?

The Court is unable to advise you on the suitability of your case. However, you can consider taking the online Pre-Filing Assessment, which can guide you on the general eligibility requirements as well as the types of offences covered and types of remedies offered. The Pre-Filing Assessment can be accessed here.

How do I file a Magistrate's Complaint?

You must file a Magistrate's Complaint in person (or, if you are a minor, through your parent or guardian) in the State Courts using the Magistrate's Complaint Form. For more instructions on how to file a Magistrate's Complaint, please refer to this page.

What happens when I file a Magistrate's Complaint?

Once your Complaint has been filed, you will be brought before a Chambers Magistrate to be examined on oath. The purpose of the examination is to allow the Magistrate to make an informed decision as to whether the Complaint is a meritorious one.

During the examination, the Chambers Magistrate may ask you to relate what has happened. The Magistrate may also ask you some questions to clarify his understanding of the incident. Where necessary, the Magistrate may also direct you to furnish other documents or evidence to support your Complaint.

Upon the conclusion of the examination, the Chambers Magistrate will then make a decision and give his orders.

What are the orders that a Chambers Magistrate may make?

The Chambers Magistrate has the discretion to make any of these orders:

  1. Refer the matter for mediation;
  2. Postpone consideration of the matter to enable both parties to resolve the complaint amicably;
  3. Issue a summons to compel the attendance of any person who may help the Magistrate determine whether there are sufficient grounds for proceeding with the complaint;
  4. Direct any police officer to investigate to ascertain the truth of the Complaint; or
  5. Dismiss the Complaint.

Please note that while your preferences may be taken into account, the Chambers Magistrate retains the discretion to make any of the orders above as he deems fit.

What are the circumstances in which the Complaint will be closed?

The Complaint will be closed if any of the following happens:

  1. The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) decides to take over the prosecution of the case;
  2. A Stern Warning has been issued by the AGC or police in respect of the offence;
  3. Where there is no offence disclosed pursuant to police investigations/inquiry by the Magistrate;
  4. Where the Complainant fails to attend any of the hearings or mediations;
  5. Where the Complaint is withdrawn;
  6. Where parties reach a settlement, etc.
Last updated on: 8/1/2019 12:19 PM

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