It is necessary for a person involved in any sort of business or personal transactions with foreigners or foreign companies in Singapore to have knowledge on ways to file a court case against such a foreigner operating from Singapore. According to a top law firm in Singapore, this is generally not a straightforward process.
In this guide, the ways to file a lawsuit against any foreigner or foreigner companies based in Singapore has been discussed.
For starters, a person’s eligibility to sue such a foreigner will depend on whether or not the person has the right to bring the issue up to the Singapore court i.e. if it falls under their jurisdiction. Firstly, this jurisdictional issue will take into consideration whether or not the intended defendant is present in Singapore and if the intended defendant is an individual or an enterprise/company. Nevertheless, in all instances, the plaintiff in question should also be based in Singapore.
How to sue a foreigner based in Singapore
In case of an Individual:
When the intended defendant is a person, the Singaporean court can only obtain the jurisdiction over this foreigner by serving him a writ of summons in person.
When the issue is under their jurisdiction, the service becomes as of right. So, the plaintiff will be able to obtain the relevant court documents and will have the right to serve it to that person.
On the other hand, if the issue does not fall under their jurisdiction, then leave from court is required to further the legal proceedings. This will be explained later on in this article.
In the case of a Company/Agency:
If the intended defendant is a company, then it can be sued only if it is physically located in Singapore. So, only a company which ran its’ business operations from one fixed address for a substantial period of time can be sued.
If the court can be provided with facts that the company has operated from Singapore for a certain period of time even if it was not physically located, then the court will take the issue into consideration.
The plaintiff is allowed to serve a personal service on to an agent or officer of the company.
However, such an agent needs to have a direct authority to operate the business dealings or should have an adequate hold on managerial dealings related to the issue faced by the plaintiff.
A legal document can be served on such a company that is physically located in Singapore by simply leaving the said documents at the corporation’s registered address or the registered address of the agent. The company can be sued by sending the service documents via post as well.
The same process applies for branches of foreign companies operating from Singapore as well. However, the branches must be those operating their business dealings as per the Companies Act, meaning:
- It should be registered in Singapore
- It must have a registered office located in Singapore.
- It must appoint at least two residents of Singapore acting as agents of the company and having the authorization to receive any legal services on behalf of the company.
How to sue a foreigner based abroad
As mentioned, the plaintiff needs to apply for leave to the Singapore courts in order to sue an intended defendant located abroad. The leave will be granted only if the plaintiff can prove to the court that:
- The issue needs to be highlighted to the Honorable court, and/or
- The issue requires the court’s verdict.
- He has fulfilled one of the heads of jurisdiction mentioned in Order 11 Rule 1 (Rules of Court)
A plaintiff needs to convince the court of the above mentioned as well if the intended defendant is a company. However, the writ which will be served on the foreigner abroad by the court will be given without notice. Hence, it is required that all material facts should be fully disclosed. However, this complicates the process in comparison with the process of suing a foreigner present in Singapore.