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New option from Case and Law Society to resolve consumer-business disputes from Oct 1

New option from Case and Law Society to resolve consumer-business disputes from Oct 1

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 11 Jun 2024
Author: Kolette Lim

This service, a collaboration between Case and the Law Society, will also be offered for contracts that fall outside the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunals. 

Consumers involved in disputes with businesses will soon have another avenue to resolve them. 

From Oct 1, those who are unable to reach a settlement through the Consumers Association of Singapore’s (Case) mediation centre can opt for a “non-binding neutral evaluation”, said the consumer watchdog and the Law Society of Singapore on June 10.

A lawyer appointed by the Law Society will assess the case. Parties that accept the assessment will sign a settlement agreement. 

This service, a collaboration between Case and the Law Society, will also be offered for contracts that fall outside the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunals. 

The Small Claims Tribunals, which are part of the State Courts, are the avenue to resolve claims of up to $20,000, including disputes arising from residential tenancy agreements of up to two years. The claim limit can be raised to $30,000 if both parties agree.

“Case will offer neutral evaluation at a fee of $163.50, to be borne equally between consumer and the business,” said Case president Melvin Yong.

The new option will enhance its existing suite of affordable avenues to resolve disputes between consumers and businesses, said Case. Its mediation centre handles about 130 disputes annually, close to 80 per cent of which are resolved with parties reaching a mutually agreed settlement.

According to Case’s website, a two-hour mediation session via the consumer watchdog would cost from $16.35 to $354.25 for its members, and between $38.15 and $436 for non-members, for all industries except real estate.

Mr Yong said he hopes the new option will provide parties with “more options, flexibility and autonomy” in resolving disputes without having to go to court.

“Previously, if consumers and businesses cannot settle during mediation, they would have to take legal action. But they can now have a reality check on the strength of their case through neutral evaluation,” he said.

Law Society president Lisa Sam said she is confident the new service will help the community, as the society has successfully used this process to resolve consumer disputes with banks and insurance companies.

“With neutral evaluation, consumers and businesses can make better decisions and resolve their disputes efficiently and fairly.”

Source: Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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