Enhancing the Regime for International Arbitration through the International Arbitration (Amendment) Bill
01 Sep 2020 Posted in Press releases
- The Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) has tabled the International Arbitration (Amendment) Bill (“Bill”) for First Reading in Parliament today.
- The International Arbitration (Amendment) Bill proposes amendments to the International Arbitration Act (“IAA”) aimed at enhancing Singapore’s status as an international commercial arbitration hub and strengthening the legal framework for international arbitration. The IAA was last amended in 2012.
- Over the years, MinLaw has made significant progress in developing Singapore as a hub for international commercial arbitration. Singapore has become a popular seat for arbitration, and is recognised as one of the leading centres for international arbitration in the world1.
- To ensure that Singapore’s arbitration regime remains responsive and relevant to evolving needs, MinLaw keeps track of developments in international best practices and commercial developments and consults widely on measures to strengthen the legal framework for international arbitration.
- Between 26 June and 21 August 2019, MinLaw conducted a public consultation to seek views on four proposals to amend the IAA. MinLaw received feedback on the proposed amendments from stakeholders, including businesses, arbitrators, professional bodies, practitioners in both local and offshore law practices, academics and international dispute resolution institutions.
- The Bill introduces two of the four proposals put forth for consultation. MinLaw will continue to study the two remaining proposals.
- The Bill has two key features.
Default Mode of Appointment of Arbitrators in Multi-Party Situations
- The Bill will introduce a default mode of appointment of arbitrators in multi-party arbitrations where the parties’ agreement does not specify the procedure that would apply for such appointments. It sets out the processes and timeframes that should be adopted by claimant(s) and respondent(s) in appointing a three-member arbitration tribunal.
- Currently, the IAA only addresses the process for default appointment of a three-member arbitration tribunal in situations where there are two parties to a dispute (i.e., one claimant and one respondent). It does not address situations where there are more than two parties involved in the dispute (“multi-party arbitrations”), which have been observed to be a growing trend, especially in arbitrations arising from joint venture, oil and gas exploration and merger and acquisition disputes.
- Such multi-party arbitration proceedings can be complex in nature and may be stalled or delayed if the parties are unable to agree on the appointment of the arbitration tribunal. The introduction of a default mode of appointment of a three-member arbitration tribunal in such multi-party situations will reduce delays in the conduct of arbitration proceedings by introducing a clear process and timelines. More details about the default mode of appointment of arbitrators in multi-party situations may be found in the Annex.
- This amendment will apply to arbitrations that are commenced on or after the Bill comes into effect.
Recognise that an arbitral tribunal and the High Court have powers to enforce obligations of confidentiality in an arbitration
- Presently, unless parties otherwise agree, the parties and the arbitral tribunal have a duty of confidentiality under the common law, not to disclose confidential information obtained in the course of the proceedings or use them for any purpose other than the dispute.
- Given the importance of confidentiality to arbitration, the Bill will provide explicit recognition of the powers of the arbitral tribunal and the High Court to enforce obligations of confidentiality, by making orders or giving of directions, where such obligations exist. The Bill does not codify obligations of confidentiality but seeks to strengthen parties’ ability to enforce existing obligations.
- The amendments to the IAA in the Bill will strengthen our arbitration legislative framework and will ensure that Singapore remains an attractive venue for international arbitrations.
- MinLaw would like to thank all respondents who have provided invaluable feedback during the public consultation.
MINISTRY OF LAW
1 SEP 2020
1. According to the White & Case and Queen Mary University of London’s International Arbitration Survey in 2018, Singapore and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre were ranked as the third most preferred arbitration seat and arbitration institution in the world respectively, and first in Asia. ↩
Last updated on 1 Sep 2020