Many people are sometimes in situations so frustrating that we feel compelled to sue someone else for putting them through a maelstrom of anger, fear, frustration and shock. This could range from slander to unfair and unethical business practices. However, once you get down to it, you really need to ask yourself 6 questions to decide if you really want to pursue a lawsuit to get legal recourse.
1. The time you have taken to pursue the matter.
The Limitation Act imposes time limits on a cause of action – so a plaintiff (person who wishes to sue) can no longer commence legal action if the time limit has expired. Different time limits are given for different issues. For example, generally speaking, for contracts an action founded on contract cannot be commenced more than 6 years after the cause of action accrues while in cases of negligence causing personal injuries cannot be commenced more than 3 years from which the date the action is accrued.
2. The resources you have to pursue the matter.
Filing court documents cost money. Consultation with a lawyer costs money. Those in financial need can seek help from the Legal Aid Bureau. (How do I apply for legal aid?) But what about time and emotional strength? Court proceedings take time – the stress and uncertainty require mental and emotional strength as plaintiffs may be required to spend time recalling traumatic incidents or to hear untruthful statements about themselves and the case.
3. How much are you willing to reveal to the public?
If the court judgement becomes public records, would this influence your reputation or that of your firm? Would this adversely affect your brand equity? Speak to your media advisers or public relations team to ensure that your reputation will not suffer unnecessary as a result of filing a lawsuit.
4. How much are you asking for or what are you asking for?
Doing a cost benefit analysis would quickly determine if a case is worth your day in court. Check that your claims do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunal before you speak to a lawyer, as lawyers are not permitted to represent any of the parties in proceedings before the Tribunals.
In the best case scenario, you win the case, you are awarded the maximum amount of damages and the defendant pays your legal fees (also known as ‘party and party costs’). Are you aware that you will still be out-of-pocket for legal fees and that ‘party and party costs’ will only be partial reimbursement of your lawyer’s charges (in the range of 40 – 70 %). Speaking to a lawyer would also quickly let you know what is achievable – for e.g. no matter how much you want things your way, specific performance (defendant being asked to do as was promised in the contract) is granted as an exception rather than the norm?
5. Is the defendant good for money?
In a less than best case scenario, you may be awarded the maximum amount of damages but your opponent is unable to pay. Before you throw good money after bad, do some searches – be sure that he is not already bankrupted (Ministry of Law – Individual Solvency Search) by previous litigation, and that they do have assets (personal profile search/ ACRA search/ property check).
6. Do you have a good lawyer?
A good lawyer is not just one who goes into litigation blindly but will give an honest assessment after you have revealed the details of your matter. This preliminary assessment would decide if you have a strong case (ie, the merits of your claims) and if the defendant has any potential defense. She should also be able to draw your attention to alternative or preventative measures. The best lawyers foresee a problem before it becomes one and safeguards your interests during the good times. See our article, Guide to Hiring a Lawyer in Singapore to find out more.
Still considering suing? Speak with an experienced lawyer today for transparent, flat fee S$49
If you are seriously considering suing someone and would like to get specific, customized advice by speaking with an experienced lawyer, we recommend talking to one today for a transparent, flat fee of S$49 with a Quick Consult HERE.