What should you do if your salon suddenly ceased operations? Check out what are the options available to you here!

Published on Aug 31, 2015

You may really have liked the salon, the package may be really cheap or perhaps the salon has so much hardselling, you eventually sign up a package that may be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

You continue to go there regularly for salon treatments until one day, the unimaginable happened.

Closed salon

You cannot get through the phone. The shop itself is closed...

And you still have hundreds and thousands of dollars left in your unused salon treatments!

It is a TOTAL nightmare!

What CAN you do in the circumstances?

To help you navigate through this difficult time, we contacted CASE and Small Claims Tribunal to see what you CAN do.

Even if you are not affected by this closure, read our top 10 tips on what you should do to protect yourself from unethical salons!

1. Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE)


CASE

CASE or the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that helps to protect customers' interests and promote fair and ethical trade practices in Singapore.

While CASE can help to mediate Consumer-to- Business disputes when unethical sales practices are implemented e.g. hardselling, misleading sales claims, unfair sales practices and defective goods, their powers in helping customers affected by the closing of a salon is limited. CASE is unable to contact the salon to negotiate for a settlement of the dispute if the salon has ceased operations and is no longer operating at their premises.

When we contacted CASE about a specific case of a salon closing down, they referred us to the Small Claims Tribunal. If you are unclear about the documents and procedure to file a claim at the SCT, you can approach CASE for free advice and assistance (www.case.org.sg).

2. Small Claims Tribunal


The Small Claims Tribunals (Tribunals) are part of the State Courts of Singapore. They have the jurisdiction and legislative power to ensure that such claims are being addressed through extensive mediation and finally, a court hearing if mediation fails.

However, they are subjected to quite a few constraints so do check them out to see if your claim fulfills their requirements.

2A. Check if the company is still operating


The Small Claims Tribunal only has jurisdiction if and ONLY IF the company is still LIVE and operating.

Therefore, you have to check if the company is still operating to see if you can go ahead with a claim with The Small Claims Tribunal.

How do you check if the company is still in operation?

1. Go to http://www.bizfile.gov.sg

2. Search for the status of the entity by entering the various possible names

Bizfile

3. You will have to login to Singpass to access the page.

Singpass

4. Check Company Status

status

5. If the Company is live, you can go ahead to purchase their business profile.

This is essential later when filing your claim!

  • To purchase, click on the Registration no. It will bring you to this page.
biz Profile
  • Click on Business Profile under Electronically Available Information.
Business Profile 2
  • Enter the entity name.
  • Select the profiles you are looking for.
  • Add to Cart at the bottom.
  • When you are ready, click Checkout on the top left hand corner of the screen.
business profile 3
  • Continue with the transaction and ACRA will email you the Business Profile within 30 minutes.

2B. Does your claim fulfill the other conditions?


The Small Claims Tribunal also has a very clear jurisdiction.

These are the other conditions your claim has to fulfill:

  • The cause of action happened within a year
  • The claim is not more than $20,000
  • If your claim is more than $10,000 but less than $20,000, you will need to contact the other party to sign a Memorandum of Consent (which will probably be very difficult if the salon is uncontactable)

Check the full Small Claims Tribunal checklist here to see if you are eligible.

It is best to file the claim AS SOON AS POSSIBLE to ensure that the company is still live and that the one year deadline has not passed.

2C. Download the Forms


Assuming that your claim passes all the above tests, you can download the appropriate forms here: https://www.statecourts.gov.sg/SmallClaims/Pages/Forms.aspx

The forms you may need are:

1) Claim Form: PDF, Microsoft Word

2) Memorandum of Consent (if your claim exceeds $10,000 but less than $20,000): PDFMicrosoft Word

2D. Fill in the forms


The Small Claims Tribunal has also kindly provided guides to help you fill in the forms.

Claim Form

Claim Form 1
Claim Form 2

Credits: Small Claims Tribunal

Memorandum of Consent

Memorandum of Consent

2E. File the Claim at Small Claims Tribunal


Don't rush to the Small Claims Tribunal immediately.

Ensure you bring all the required documents before you go down!

  1. A properly completed, legible and signed original Claim Form
  2. 3 photocopies of the said original Claim Form
  3. 1 photocopy each of any other supporting document .e.g receipts from the salon!
  4. An original copy of the latest Instant Information search [Business Profile] of the Respondent, if the Respondent is a business concern, obtained no earlier than 1 month from the date of filing of the Claim (this is the business profile we asked you to obtain in Section 2A)
  5. A photocopy of the identification document of you as the Claimant, or if you are filing on behalf of the Claimant, then additionally a photocopy of your identification document; (Essentially, a photocopy of your NRIC)

Note that the Small Claims Tribunal imposes a small administrative charge to take care of your claim depending on how much your claim is.

  • Not exceeding $5,000: $10.00
  • $5,000-$10,000: $50.00
  • $10,000-$20,000: 1% of Claim amount

This charge can be paid in cash, NETS or by Cheque. (No Credit Card!)

Do also note the operating hours for filing if you are planning to go down:

Mondays to Thursdays* : 9.00am to 5.00 pm

Fridays*: 9.00am to 4.30 pm

Saturdays*: 9.00am to 12.00pm

2F. Other Things to Note about the Small Claims Tribunal


These are the other things you should consider before starting a small claim:

  • Is the other party in a financial position to pay the sum you are claiming? This should be your first check before lodging any claim, as the other party may not be able to pay you or may not have any assets of value for you to seize should you obtain an Order of Tribunal in your favour but the other party does not pay. You may wish to note that expenses would be incurred in lodging the claim and enforcing an Order of Tribunal.
  • Are you aware that you cannot have legal representation at the Tribunals? At the Tribunals, you cannot be represented by an advocate or solicitor, or an agent (paid or otherwise). You therefore bear the responsibility of conducting and preparing your case. The officers of the Tribunals cannot prepare documents for you, or ensure that you do not do anything which is contrary to your own interests. The officers of the Tribunals examine documents only to ensure that the documents satisfy relevant procedural requirements, and not to verify the information provided in the documents. They cannot advise you on the validity of your claim or the likelihood of success of your claim or whether you should proceed on a particular course of action.
  • Are you aware that even if you obtain a decision in your favour for payment of money, you may have to take up enforcement proceedings if the other party does not pay? Where an Order of Tribunal is granted in your favour but the other party does not pay, you may have to start separate enforcement proceedings against him or her. The State Courts, Tribunals and the Bailiffs Section cannot act on your behalf to commence such proceedings as they must remain impartial at all times in the discharge of their legal functions and duties. The usual enforcement method adopted by most litigants is the issue of a Writ of Seizure and Sale. For queries on the filing of the Writ of Seizure and Sale please make your queries at the Bailiffs Section. If you are uncertain as to the appropriate enforcement method in law that should adopt, you may wish to seek independent legal advice.
  • Are you aware that in spite of enforcement proceedings, you may not be able to recover any money? Your decision to commence enforcement proceedings should consider whether the other party has any valuable assets to be seized to satisfy the sum ordered to be paid. If after issuing a Writ of Seizure and Sale, it is found that the other party has no assets to be seized, you would not be able to recover any money and also stand to lose your execution costs. It is therefore prudent for you to check from the start whether the other party is financially able to pay the sum you claim before lodging the claim, and whether the other party has any assets of sufficient value to be seized should you need to enforce the Order.

3. Approach a Lawyer


In the unfortunate event that the company is terminated, even the Small Claims tribunal would not have the jurisdiction to help you mediate or resolve the claim.

In that situation, you would have to consult a lawyer to sue the company under civil proceedings.

We are however not sure if the time, effort and money will be worth it.

From what we see on Legal Help, a free legal forum, you are unlikely to recover anything especially if the company became bankrupt since their assets have exceeded liabilities... even if you had a case against them.

If you want to pursue further, it might be worthwhile to contact the Community Legal Clinic where you will be able to see a lawyer on a one-to-one basis for 20 minutes free.

Find out more about your nearest Community Legal Clinic here

Going through such a situation can be really distressing and time-consuming... and many a times, it is uncertain if you can get your money back.

It is therefore best to avoid  getting into this situation altogether. To help you do so, we have come up with 10 tips on how you can avoid losing money to unethical salons in Singapore!

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