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Amendments passed to boost international arbitration framework

Amendments passed to boost international arbitration framework

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 06 Oct 2020
Author: Cara Wong

Changes to the International Arbitration Act were passed yesterday to enhance the arbitration process and hold parties to their confidentiality obligations.

Changes to the International Arbitration Act were passed yesterday to enhance the arbitration process and hold parties to their confidentiality obligations.

The amendments to the Act outline a new default process for arbitrators to be appointed in disputes involving more than two parties.

They also explicitly spell out powers for the High Court and arbitral tribunals to enforce confidentiality obligations between parties.

Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong yesterday said these changes help strengthen Singapore's international arbitration framework, and will ensure the nation remains an attractive venue for such arbitration.

For example, the new default process for arbitrators to be appointed in multi-party disputes would "reduce potential delay" in conducting arbitration proceedings, such as when parties do not agree on the joint nomination of arbitrators or on third-party arbitrators, he said.

With the amendment, any party can request the appointing authority to appoint arbitrators.

Meanwhile, recognising the powers of the arbitral tribunal and the High Court to enforce confidentiality obligations underscores the importance of confidentiality in arbitration, Mr Tong added.

The High Court and arbitral tribunal will be able to make orders or give directions to enforce the confidentiality obligations that parties and the arbitral tribunal already have a duty to fulfil.

Several MPs welcomed these amendments, including Mr Patrick Tay (Pioneer), who noted that the potential for disputes is rife now, as contractual obligations are being restructured, suspended or terminated as a result of the "unprecedented impact of Covid-19 on global economies".

Mr Vikram Nair (Sembawang GRC), Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) and Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (Chua Chu Kang GRC) also asked that the Law Ministry implement other proposals that have been put forward.

The two amendments passed are among four main proposals on which the ministry has been consulting various stakeholders since last year. The others are a proposal allowing parties in arbitral proceedings to appeal to the High Court on a question of law arising from the arbitral award, and a proposal to allow parties to agree to waive or limit the annulment grounds.

Mr Zhulkarnain said Singapore continues to face stiff competition in attracting disputing parties, and urged the ministry to expedite the tabling of the other proposals.

In response, Mr Tong said these are still being studied. "This is a process that is ongoing, and we are always taking into account what users want to see, developments in the law, and of course international conventions and practices as well. We will continue to make Singapore an attractive scene for arbitration disputes."


ATTRACTIVE VENUE FOR ARBITRATION

This is a process that is ongoing, and we are always taking into account what users want to see, developments in the law, and of course international conventions and practices as well. We will continue to make Singapore an attractive scene for arbitration disputes.

SECOND MINISTER FOR LAW EDWIN TONG, on how the other proposals that have been put forward are still being studied.

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

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