Two recent developments in the Singapore arbitration landscape are of interest.  First, a written response from the Singapore Minister for Law confirms that the government is considering amending the International Arbitration Act (the “IAA”) to allow for appeals on errors of law on an opt-in basis. Second, a recent Singapore High Court decision confirms the standard to be met by a party seeking to restrain winding up proceedings when there is a valid arbitration agreement.  Underscoring both developments is a common objective of respecting party autonomy in arbitration.

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Herbert Smith Freehills has promoted four new Of Counsel from within the global arbitration practice with effect from 1st May. With promotions in New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing, the new Of Counsel are:

Florencia Villaggi, New York: Florencia specialises in international arbitration. She is a native Spanish-speaking practitioner from Latin America, trained in the Civil Law system but with extensive practice in a Common Law jurisdiction. Her experience encompasses commercial and investment arbitration, with focus on the Latin American region and the energy sector.

Dan Waldek, Singapore: Daniel is a highly rated disputes lawyer specialising in construction, energy and infrastructure disputes covering projects across Asia Pacific. He is admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales and the BVI, and is a Recognised Foreign Lawyer with the Singapore International Commercial Court.

Antony Crockett, Hong Kong: Antony has a significant regional and international market profile in business and human rights. He is qualified in Australia (Victoria), England and Wales, and Hong Kong SAR. He acts as an advocate in international arbitration proceedings and in arbitration-related court proceedings.

Stella Hu, Beijing: Stella is a trilingual Mainland Chinese arbitration specialist with experience in complex cross-border disputes. She has strong client relationships with Chinese State-owned companies, private companies and financial institutions.

Paula Hodges QC notes,  “We are delighted to welcome four new Of Counsel from within the global arbitration practice, which – together with our recent Partner promotions –  showcases the outstanding lawyers we have in our international arbitration practice. With Of Counsel promotions in New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing, it is wonderful to see affirmation of the strength and breadth of the talent across the network.”

Singapore court refuses set aside on the basis that the successful party in the arbitration did not call witnesses to give evidence and disclose certain documents

In BVU v BVX [2019] SGHC 69 the High Court of Singapore refused to set-aside an arbitral award on the basis that BVX, the successful party in the arbitration, did not call certain witnesses to give evidence and disclose certain internal documents.  BVU’s attempt to secure these documents by way of subpoena in the context of the set-aside proceedings also failed.  The decision highlights that parties to an international arbitration are normally subject to less stringent requirements for the disclosure of documentary and other evidence.  The decision also emphasises that belated attempts to revisit the merits of a case by procuring additional evidence in the context of set-aside proceedings are unlikely to be successful.

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Inside Arbitration: Issue #6 of the publication from Herbert Smith Freehills’ Global Arbitration Practice

We are delighted to share with you the latest issue of the publication from the Herbert Smith Freehills Global Arbitration Practice, Inside Arbitration.

In addition to sharing knowledge and insight about the markets and industries in which our clients operate, the publication offers personal perspectives of our international arbitration partners from across the globe.

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SIAC Investment Arbitration Rules

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has announced the release of its Investment Arbitration Rules (the Rules), which came into force on 1 January 2017.  This release follows the earlier public consultation in February 2016, when practitioners were invited by SIAC to review and comment on the draft of the Rules.

The Rules are the first of a kind. While private arbitral institutions often administer both commercial and investment arbitration, such as the ICC or the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, SIAC is the first private institution to introduce a specific set of arbitration rules for investment arbitrations.  In creating a dedicated set of rules, SIAC has adopted innovative approaches to address some of the key procedural issues commonly encountered in investment arbitration.  

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Applicable law of arbitration agreements: Singapore revisits the English case of Sulamérica

In the recent case of BCY v BCZ [2016] SGHC 249, the Singapore High Court considered whether there was a valid and binding arbitration agreement in the context of a negotiated but unsigned contract. The Court comprehensively summarised Singapore's position on determining the governing law of an arbitration agreement, holding that there is a strong presumption that this will be the governing law of the main contract unless this would negate the arbitration agreement.  The judgment provides clarity for clients negotiating contracts which provide for disputes to be resolved by Singapore seated arbitration.

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Singapore International Arbitration Centre Arbitration Rules 2016: key changes and potential impact

As discussed in our earlier blog post, on 1 July 2016, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre ("SIAC") released the sixth edition of its Arbitration Rules (the "2016 Rules"). The 2016 Rules supersede the 2013 version of the SIAC's rules (the "2013 Rules") with effect from 1 August 2016.  The 2016 Rules were jointly produced by the SIAC Secretariat and various subcommittees of the Court of Arbitration of SIAC and were finalised following an extensive public consultation exercise.  

The 2016 Rules aim to further promote the cost-effective and efficient resolution of arbitrations.  Key highlights include new provisions on multi-party arbitrations, consolidation, joinder and a procedure for the early dismissal of claims and defences.  SIAC Registrar, Ms Delphine Ho, stated that the "unprecedented number of comments on the draft rules from users and stakeholders… enabled us to produce what we are confident will be the gold standard of international arbitration rules".

Readers may also be interested to know that the proposed SIAC Investment Arbitration Rules are still being finalised and are due to come into force on around 1 September 2016.

In this post, we summarise the key changes introduced by the 2016 Rules and consider their potential impact.

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