Modes of Commencing an Action

The Rules of Court are the main subsidiary legislation on Singapore’s civil procedure. Under the Rules of Court, there are two modes of commencing a civil action:

  • By Writ of Summons; and
  • By Originating Summons.


Writ of Summons (Order 6 of the Rules of Court)

A Writ of Summons is a formal document addressed to the defendant requiring him to enter an appearance if he wishes to dispute the plaintiff’s claim. Civil actions involving substantial disputes of fact are commenced by way of a writ. These include, but are not limited to:
  • Contract actions, eg, claim for damages resulting from breach of contractual terms and obligations, etc;
  • Tort actions, eg, claim for damages in respect of property damage resulting from road accidents and negligence, Claim for damages resulting from fraud and defamation, etc;
  • Personal Injury actions, eg, claim for damages in respect of personal injury and / or death resulting from road and industrial accidents or negligence, etc;
  • Intellectual property actions, eg, claim for damages resulting from the infringement of copyright, trademark or patent, etc; and
  • Admiralty and Shipping actions.
A writ must be in Form 2 (PDF, 11.95 KB) of the Rules of Court.


Originating Summons (Order 7 of the Rules of Court)

An action is commenced by way of an Originating Summons where:
  • It is required by statute; or
  • The dispute is concerned with matters of law in respect of which there is unlikely to be any substantial dispute of facts.
Compared to a Writ of Summons, the Originating Summons is a simpler and swifter procedure for the resolution of disputes as it is determined generally on affidavits filed and does not involve pleadings or many interlocutory proceedings. However, many of the requirements concerning issuance, duration, renewal and service with regard to a writ may apply, with the necessary modifications, to an Originating Summons. An Originating Summons may be in Forms 4 or 5 (PDF, 11.15 KB) of the Rules of Court, depending on which is appropriate.