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Friday, January 6, 2017

Singapore International Arbitration Centre Rules 2016

 by Ravi Shankar

 India signed UN convention on Recognition and enforcement of Foreign awards (popularly known as New York convention) on 10th October 1958 and at that point of time only 23 countries signed the above said convention. It is interesting to know that USA, UK, Singapore & Hong Kong the popular international arbitration countries of today did not sign the above said convention at that point of time.

Among them in Asia, since its inception in the year 1992 (now celebrating Silver Jubilee) Singapore Arbitration Centre(SIAC) has been aggressive in ensuring international quality services, upgrading its Rules, adopting new developments etc., It has already established itself as one of the top well administered arbitration Institutions of the world.

A couple of days back SIAC has announced its Arbitration Rules 2016, still final version is not published. The said Rules have tried to deal with a few issues faced by arbitrating parties and have tried to give acceptable solutions to them. But most importantly by its 2016 Rules SIAC has made a declaration to the world that SIAC wants to travel beyond Singapore seat, by removing the Singapore default seat clause.  Each Arbitration Law Firm and Arbitration Lawyer is waiting to see the impact of new Rules.

The arbitration Rules of SIAC 2013 and earlier provided that the parties choosing arbitration under SIAC Rules, need to specify the seat of arbitration in their arbitration clause and in case of failure of the parties to specify a seat in their clause, Singapore shall be the default seat for those arbitrations. That means, if parties choose SIAC as the administering Institution for their arbitration in their arbitration clause and did not specifically choose a seat, the seat became Singapore as per the old Rules.

Many International arbitration centres including LCIA (London Court of International arbitration which has London seat), HKIAC (Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre which has Hong Kong seat) have default seats. Among the popular arbitration institutions, the only arbitral Institution which does not have a default seat in its Rules is International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Since there is no default seat specified in the SIAC Rules, the arbitral tribunal appointed by SIAC will decide the seat of arbitration, taking into consideration all the relevant factors. This provision displays the readiness of SIAC to administer International arbitrations seated globally.

But one of the important reasons for SIAC getting such a big growth within a short span of time is the default seat provision. Each arbitration law firm in India and arbitration lawyer in India started recommending SIAC because of the, the impressive exercise of the powers of the supervising Courts, by the Singapore Courts. Hence reaction of the parties to this clause have to be seen over a period of time.

The author is an International Arbitration lawyer in Delhi and a Senior Partner from an International Arbitration law firm in Delhi and Mumbai.

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