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S'pore ties with London as top arbitration seat in the world

S'pore ties with London as top arbitration seat in the world

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 10 Jun 2021
Author: K.C. Vijayan

Singapore is also the most preferred seat of arbitration in the Asia-Pacific region and among the top four worldwide based on the survey results.

In a landmark feat, Singapore has tied for first place with London as the top seat of arbitration in the world, based on a well-regarded survey.

It is also the most preferred seat of arbitration in the Asia-Pacific region and among the top four worldwide, with its standing improving even in the Caribbean/ Latin America region, where it was previously unranked.

The 2021 International Arbitration Survey by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and global law firm White & Case published last month also ranked the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) as the most preferred arbitral institution in the Asia-Pacific and second in the world.

"It is one of the most comprehensive empirical studies on international arbitration and is well regarded globally. We have done well in the survey and our rankings have improved over the years," said a spokesman for the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) when contacted.

In the 2018 QMUL survey, Singapore was ranked the third-most popular seat for arbitration behind London and Paris; in 2015, it was fourth, behind London, Paris and Hong Kong.

The survey explored how international arbitration has adapted to changing demands and circumstances such as the Covid-19 pandemic and also probed trends in user preferences and perceptions, said its authors.

This edition saw the "widest-ever pool of respondents" with 1,218 questionnaire responses received from, and 198 interviews conducted with, a diverse group in international arbitration.

"The results reflect an interesting snapshot of change in arbitral practice during a time of global upheaval. The arbitration community had to adapt quickly, and some of these changes will remain after the pandemic recedes," said Ms Norah Gallagher, deputy director of QMUL's School of International Arbitration, who steered the study.

"Virtual hearings and increased reliance on technology are clear examples of changes that will persist. It has been a challenging yet rewarding process, but we are pleased with the interesting results."

The report noted "the interesting movement within the top-five rankings. While London once again stands at the top of the charts, for the first time it shares this position with Singapore.

"Interestingly, some interviewees mentioned the presence of well-established arbitration institutions, such as SIAC in Singapore, as an additional factor they consider when choosing the seat."

MinLaw said Singapore's top standing is a result of efforts over several years, such as providing an arbitration-friendly legal framework where legislation is regularly reviewed and updated.

Among other things, besides world-class facilities, there is also deep professional expertise in international dispute resolution in Singapore, which includes SIAC's international panel of more than 500 experienced arbitrators from over 40 jurisdictions.

Senior Counsel Francis Xavier, a former London-based Chartered Institute of Arbitrators president, lists two important ingredients for Singapore's prominence: its highly evolved arbitration law framework that is quick to adapt to the changing needs of arbitration users, and its firm pro-arbitration commitment on the part of the judiciary.

WongPartnership's head of litigation and dispute resolution Chou Sean Yu said: "Singapore's rise reflects the continued recognition by global businesses and the international legal community of Singapore's excellence as one of the world's leading dispute resolution hubs.

"The survey also shows SIAC's increased reputation as a global arbitration institution and that it is no longer just a regional player."

Mr Gary Born, president of the SIAC Court of Arbitration, hailed the "exceptional results" and said: "SIAC will continue to enhance and innovate its services in order to better serve our increasingly diverse and global users."

Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, who is chairman of SIAC, added: "We are very grateful to the international community for their trust in Singapore and SIAC."


SNAPSHOT OF CHANGE

The results reflect an interesting snapshot of change in arbitral practice during a time of global upheaval. The arbitration community had to adapt quickly, and some of these changes will remain after the pandemic recedes. Virtual hearings and increased reliance on technology are clear examples of changes that will persist. It has been a challenging yet rewarding process, but we are pleased with the interesting results.

MS NORAH GALLAGHER,
deputy director of the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary University of London.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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