On 19 January 2015 Arbitration Association 40 members met to discuss in interactive format the various practical issues relating to arbitrations seated in Singapore and particularly under the SIAC Rules. Ms Seok Hui Lim (CEO of the SIAC) and Mr Aloke Ray (Partner, White&Case (Singapore)) kindly agreed to answer the questions of the audience which included private practitioners, in-house counsel and academics. White & Case (Moscow) supported and hosted the seminar.
Mr Aloke Ray
Ms Seok Hui Lim
The discussion began with questions about how SIAC compares to other arbitration institutions Russian parties favour such as the ICC and the LCIA as well as the HKIAC. Speaking about SIAC’s advantages compared to traditional European instituƟtions Ms Lim highlighted the lower arbitration costs as well as the SIAC’s secretariat drive to ensure speedy progress of arbitration. Comparing to HKIAC she noted the SIAC’s more extensive track-record of emergency arbitrator proceedings as well as more predictability in long-term supporting stance to arbitration of Singaporean courts.
In discussing Singapore rapid development as a leading arbitration center both Ms Lim and Mr Ray underlined consistent cooperation in this endevour of all stakeholders including state authorities, courts, the SIAC and law firms. In particular, Singaporean authorities adopted an arbitration-friendly legal framework and regularly consult all interested parties on whether any amendments are desirable. Furthermore, they have for a long time supported SIAC’s efforts to promote itself internationally, including by direct funding. SIAC in turn has been equally open to discuss its rules and procedures with arbitration users and take on board they suggestions. SIAC’s ambition of being an international arbitration center is reflected in international composition of its Court as well as the secretariat. One of the ways in which the secretariat interacts with the users is by being available to discuss any practical issues regarding the rules or SIAC arbitration by phone or email.
Ms Lim noted with satisfaction the growing interest of Russian parties to SIAC arbitration. She said that during the last few years SIAC has seen only a small number of disputes involving a CIS party. This may explain in part why there is only one Russian arbitrator on the SIAC list of arbitrators (Ilya Nikiforov (Egorov, Puginsky, Afanasiev & Partners)). However, Ms Lim stressed that the institution is certainly prepared for the increase in the number of ‘Russian’ disputes and if it occurs will proceed accordingly including by potentially puƫng more Russian lawyers on the list of arbitrators.
The participants next turned to the practice of Singaporean courts in arbitration-related cases. Mr Ray stressed that the courts are generally ‘arbitration-friendly’ and awards are rarely set aside – an important advantage for an arbitration seat. However, he noted that it is by no means impossible to set aside an award, where the court finds that one of the grounds for seƫng aside is present. In this respect he referred to the recent decisions in Astro v First Media, where Singaporean courts refused to enforce an award, finding that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction.
Arbitration Association 40 is grateful to White&Case and to Mr David Goldberg and Ms Yulia Zagonek for assistance with organizing the event and for hosting it.