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Singapore Arbitration

Written by: Pooja Umadi - law student
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Singapore is a vibrant centre for alternative dispute resolution processes. After a quarter of a century of development, building up an arbitration-friendly environment and capabilities, Singapore has grown to be the venue of first choice for international businesses when it comes to resolving disputes in a neutral third country in Asia.

Singapore hosts arbitrations of all kinds. Covering a whole range of subject matters, some are administered by institutions, such as the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce. Many more are managed by the parties themselves ad hoc arbitration and arbitration according to UNCITRAL Rules.

More and more parties from abroad choose Singapore, not because their contract has any connection with Singapore, but for the many advantages that Singapore has to offer as the seat of their arbitration. Mediation, under the Singapore Mediation Centre and industry mediation bodies, has also gained prominence as a means of resolving commercial disputes.

Why Singapore Arbitration?

* Independent neutral third-country venue.
* UNCITRAL Model Law the cornerstone of Singapore's law on international commercial arbitration.
* Party to New York Convention (on enforcement of arbitration awards). Singapore arbitration awards enforceable in almost any country of the world.
* Strong tradition of the rule of law.
* Maximum judicial support of arbitration, minimum intervention.
* Freedom of choice of counsel in arbitration proceedings.
* A strong arbitration institution the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.
* Competent arbitration professionals lawyers, arbitrators and experts.
* Excellent support facilities and services.
* Lower cost than in almost any other major centre of arbitration.

Advantages of resolving disputes by arbitration

Arbitration is a less formal procedure than court litigation, and it is conducted in private, away from the glare of the media and the public. Parties are free to appoint their own arbitrators and can chose more practical procedures and rules for the conduct of an arbitration. Arbitration awards are final and binding, and have extra-territorial enforceability in over 120 countries under the New York Convention. Generally, arbitration can also be more cost-efficient and speedier than court litigation.

Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) and Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (SIArb)?

Yes, they are separate and distinct organisations. SIAC is an arbitral institution that offers a neutral and independent venue in which parties can resolve their disputes. It provides institutional support for the conduct of arbitration. Among other things, this includes the appointment of arbitrators, the financial management of the arbitration, case management and arranging for hearing facilities and all other matters which facilitate the smooth conduct of the arbitration.
SIArb is an institution that caters to the training needs of arbitrators. SIAC works closely with SIArb by lending resources to conduct some of its training modules.

Procedure
Arbitration is a consensual process; both parties will have to agree to submit the dispute to arbitration. As a first step, parties should check their agreement to find out if there is an arbitration clause. Even if there is none, parties can still agree to submit the dispute to arbitration. This post-dispute agreement should be in writing. Once either step is fulfilled, a Notice of Arbitration has to be filed with the Registrar of SIAC.

Cost Factor
There are three main components to bear in mind - the administration fee, the arbitrator's fee and the lawyers' fee.
The administration fee is pegged to the quantum of the claim, or the counterclaim if any.
The arbitrators' fee is similarly pegged to the quantum in dispute.
Lawyers' fees are negotiated, fixed and borne directly by the parties.

SIAC's fee structure is a simple one.
Where a case is conducted according to SIAC's arbitration rules, or where it has been submitted or referred to SIAC for arbitration, parties pay an administration fee. The administration fee is pegged to the amount of the claim or counterclaim according to a scale.

In cases falling outside SIAC's arbitration rules, where SIAC is asked to appoint an arbitrator, we charge an appointment fee. The arbitrator appointment fee, on the other hand, is a flat fee, not dependent on the amount of claim.

Arbitrators' Fees
Arbitrators' fees are ascertained according to a quantum based scale. Hourly rates no longer apply.

Other Fees and Charges
If you seek the assistance of the Registrar of SIAC to tax costs, the charges for these services are also set out

Can Parties Appoint Arbitrators?

SIAC has 2 panels of arbitrators: the regional panel and the international panel. Both of these panels comprise legal and industry experts, in a broad range of subject areas. While SIAC's panels of arbitrators have been carefully constructed to bring the best arbitrators together for the convenience of parties arbitrating under the auspices of SIAC, parties are free to appoint other arbitrators.

Types of Disputes That can Be Resolved

With the exception of criminal and family law matters, almost any civil case you can take to court, you can resolve by arbitration at SIAC.

Conduct of the Proceedings
The parties may agree on the arbitral procedure.
In the absence of procedural rules agreed by the parties or contained in these Rules, the Tribunal shall conduct the arbitration in such manner as it considers appropriate to ensure the fair, expeditious, economical and final determination of the dispute. A presiding arbitrator may, after consulting the other arbitrator(s), make procedural rulings alone.

Seat of Arbitration

The parties may agree on the seat of arbitration. Failing such an agreement, the seat of arbitration shall be Singapore , unless the Registrar determines having regard to all the circumstances of the case, that another seat is more appropriate. The Tribunal may hold hearings and meetings by any means it considers expedient or appropriate and at any location it considers convenient or appropriate.

Award
Before issuing any award, the Tribunal shall submit it in draft form to the Registrar. Unless the Registrar extends time or the parties agree otherwise, the Tribunal shall submit the draft award to the Registrar within 45 days from the date on which the Tribunal declares the proceedings closed. The Registrar may suggest modifications as to the form of the award and, without affecting the Tribunal's liberty of decision, may also draw its attention to points of substance. No award shall be issued by the Tribunal until it has been approved by the Registrar as to its form. The Tribunal may make separate awards on different issues at different times.

If any arbitrator refuses or fails to comply with the mandatory provisions of any applicable law relating to the making of the award, having been given a reasonable opportunity to do so, the remaining arbitrator(s) shall proceed in his absence.

Conclusion
As an institution administering arbitration, SIAC is committed to complete impartiality and transparency in all that it does for parties. Broadly, it helps parties in:
* Appointment of arbitrators when they cannot agree on an appointment
* Management of the financial and other practical aspects of arbitration
* Facilitation of the smooth progress of arbitration

SIAC carries out these responsibilities according to its published guidelines in its Code of Practice. SIAC seeks to promote the highest standard of conduct and delivery in all arbitrations conducted under its auspices. With a multinational and multi-cultural professional secretariat, SIAC is devoted to serving all its users with a complete understanding of their needs.

The author can be reached at: poojaumadi@legalserviceindia.com / Print This Article

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