Singapore has backed the confidence of global leaders and the market to settle the dispute using the device of Arbitration at Singapore over subscribing century famous Dispute Resolution Hub -London, Paris. The major corporate dispute and deal negotiations like Reliance’s acquisition of Future Groups covering headlines find their roots in the settlement at an island nation. Arbitration is a dispute redressal mechanism whereby a party to the agreement submits themselves for any disputes or portion of it mushrooming from agreement to submit to an arbitrator and resolve thereon instead of the conventional remedy of applying to court-based litigation. What astounds to study the development of Singapore is; the first arbitration centre opened in 1991, in less than a three-decade, it has weaved trust and built an ambience gaining reliability on this facet.
The seed for the current surge of Arbitration demand for Singapore was sown in 1990 with the encouraging attitude of the legislature and welcoming cooperation of the judiciary, making it accessible through various schemes and initiatives. Initiatives like court-based mediation wherein Pre Trial conference (PTC)was encouraged to settle the case mutually and efficiently led to the establishment of a Primary Dispute Resolution Centre ( PDRC) for civil cases brought before the Supreme court and State court. At present, ADR is to be considered at the earliest stage in civil suits backed by Practice Direction Amendment No.2 of 2012. The committee on ADR had made recommendations towards the successful amplification of ADR outside court which were accurately and immediately accepted in 1997, leading to the development of the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC). Further, in schemes such as motor vehicle claims and others, advocates were made obligatory to certify on the form to the effect that they had discussed the merits of ADR before approaching the court This development at the domestic level paved the way to propel ADR globally.
Global rapport, goodwill, transparency in dealing, geopolitics, international treaty, agreement, and fees play a crucial role in attracting foreign players. To build systematic machinery in this aspect, Singapore after its independence in the 1960s till today has remained almost neutral in the geopolitical sphere developing itself as an entrepot with a stable economy and a subscriber of the commonwealth. Independent judiciary. Successful in eradicating Corruption. Respecting ethnic values and religious diversity. All these aspects with progressive measures from the side of government had remained determining factors to boast demand. Post Brexit, London is losing its magnet in attracting new arbitration due to unpredictable political plots, economy, increasing costs, delay in resolution coupled with increasing competition from new candidates. In the U.S.A complex legal circuit against increasing flexibility in a nation like Singapore diverts the arbitrator seat. This development on the international chart augurs favorably for the Singapore arbitration industry.
STEP TO GLOBAL ARBITRATION HUB
To ensure excellence in Arbitration, Singapore has initially allowed international law firms to open their offices in Singapore and serve Asia-Pacific wants. This has added an advantage for the native legal fraternity to learn international practices and global standards. The government has provided tax incentives and investment where needed to establish creditable Arbitration houses like Maxwell Chambers. Successful induction was made of judges from diverse jurisdictions gaining balanced regional and international jurisprudence whilst giving an award. Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) was established in 1991 and has today chairman from U.S.A Prof. Lucy Reed (2020-2023) and experts from different nations giving due regard to governing laws applied. Singapore International Arbitration Act,1994 (2020 Revised Edition) has embraced United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) since it was first passed. The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (known as the New York Convention) to which Singapore is a signatory and hundred-plus other countries are signatories to it makes the Arbitration award enforceable. The Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements added an advantage to enforceability boosting Singapore’s Dispute resolution mechanism alongside promoting mediation through the Multi-lateral treaty of the Singapore Convention on Mediation.
Singapore has created a dual system of arbitration. Domestic arbitration is governed under Arbitration Act and cross-border arbitration is under International Arbitration Act. For opting for arbitration in Singapore, there must be an arbitration agreement in writing (can be in digital format) and the same should be the intention of parties binding themselves. Under a dual system, parties are free to constitute an arbitration tribunal of their choice. No formal training, qualification, or certification is required for being an arbitrator. Parties can even substitute arbitrators according to the rules of appointment. In both systems, Arbitrator can also be removed only the justifiable ground like undue delay or lack of functioning by the competent court. The interference of the judicial body is limited and Singapore courts have adopted a non-interference stance to the arbitration process. The confidentiality of arbitration proceedings is guaranteed in the Singapore seat. In case of any lacuna or complexity in proceeding SIAC rules are applied by default. In August 2020,’ SIAC Guide – Taking your arbitration Remote’ was issued by SIAC with an in-detail explanation of particulars like Platform, Transcription and Recording, Technical Failure Protocol, Remote Hearing Etiquette, and more adapting covid-19 situation and making it a convenient hub. Scanning complexity in investment disputes, SIAC has framed Investment Arbitration Rules,2017 sealing grey areas of confusionIn 2021, funding of Arbitration from Third parties provided a fair opportunity to access quality and speedy justice. When disputes carry a cost – prompt and speedy resolution becomes a prior choice of destination.
The International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA) Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (SIArb), SIAC is the prominent arbitration house in Singapore. The sector which aspires for resolution is the Maritime industry, insurance, health, real estate, telecommunication, agriculture, aviation, energy, and other. In 2021, SIAC registered 469 new cases with an average value of cases USD 21.81 million. India shares the largest pie in the case of registration over all nationalities.
There is an increasing demand for the stationing of Arbitration within the nation and exporting same by many countries like India, Dubai, and India, what upstands Singapore is an ecosystem threaded with highly developed and prudent legal infrastructure, the integrity of the ecosystem, a knowledge pool of expertise, geographical dividend, a business-friendly environment, and non-partisan foreign policy reflecting in the neutrality of award with speedy and efficient disposal of disputes broadcasting success making arbitration tourism upholding equal access to pan nation.
Author(s) Name: Bhadrka Nitish Kishor (Parul University, Vadodara)
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