No U-Turns Ahead: Singapore Court of Appeal holds that commencement of court proceedings may lose you the right to later rely on arbitration agreements

In the recent landmark decision of Marty Ltd v Hualon Corp (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd [2018] SGCA 63, the Singapore Court of Appeal held that the commencement of court proceedings notwithstanding the existence of a binding arbitration agreement and without any explanation or qualification is in and of itself sufficient to constitute a prima facie repudiation of the arbitration agreement. Counterparties who have accepted the court’s jurisdiction would correspondingly be deemed to have accepted the repudiatory breach, and will also no longer be entitled to insist on adherence with the arbitration agreement.

The Singapore Court of Appeal’s decision is noteworthy as it departs from longstanding authority that the mere commencement of litigation proceedings would not constitute repudiation of the arbitration agreement. The Court also provides important guidance to parties to Singapore seated arbitrations on whether (and when) it is appropriate to commence litigation in circumstances where an arbitration agreement exists, and how to react if a counterparty does so.  We analyse the decision below.

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Be on time to preserve your right to Active Remedies – the Singapore High Court considers a party’s duty to apply promptly when challenging the jurisdiction of an arbitral tribunal

In Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Ltd (“RALL“) v Avant Garde Maritime Services (Private) Limited (“AGMS“) [2018] SGHC 78, the Singapore High Court dismissed an application to set aside an award on jurisdiction, on the basis that the applicant had failed to challenge the tribunal’s preliminary ruling on jurisdiction within the deadline stipulated under section 10(3) of the International Arbitration Act (“IAA“) and Article 16(3) of the UNCITRAL Model Law. The decision provides guidance on the distinction between active and passive remedies in the context of applicable deadlines when seeking to set aside an award on grounds of jurisdiction, and resisting enforcement on the same basis.

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Amendments to the Singapore International Commercial Court Regime to strengthen Singapore as an international arbitration seat of choice

On 9 January 2018, amendments were passed to the Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Act (“SCJA “) which clarify that the Singapore International Commercial Court (“SICC“) has jurisdiction to hear proceedings relating to international commercial arbitration.  The amendments also abolish the pre-action certificate procedure for applications to the SICC.

Established in 2015 as the ‘international’ division of the Singapore High Court, the SICC has gone from strength to strength in a short span of time, gaining a reputation for the quality and speed of judgments rendered. Since its establishment the SICC has heard 17 cases on matters ranging from construction, investment, banking and finance, and shipbuilding, all of which are high value cases involving international parties and counsel.

These latest amendments, along with the addition of four new esteemed international jurists to the SICC bench, are intended to further increase the popularity and usage of the SICC, and Singapore as a preferred seat of international arbitration. Continue reading

Singapore Court of Appeal confirms the validity of “unilateral option to arbitrate” clauses

In the recent decision of Wilson Taylor Asia Pacific Pte Ltd v Dyna-Jet Pte Ltd [2017] SGCA 32, the Singapore Court of Appeal confirmed that the Singapore courts will enforce a dispute resolution clause which gives only one party the option to arbitrate.  The court also clarified the requirements and threshold for a stay of proceedings to be granted under section 6 of the Singapore International Arbitration Act ("IAA")

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‘Bare’ arbitration clauses and the extent to which the Singapore court may assist

In K.V.C Rice Intertrade Co Ltd v Asian Mineral Resources Pte Ltd and another Suit [2017] SGHC 32 ("KVC Action") the Singapore High Court discussed the extent to which the Singapore courts and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, in its capacity as default appointing authority under the Singapore International Arbitration Act ("IAA"), are able to support and facilitate an arbitration commenced pursuant to a bare arbitration clause which specifies neither the place of arbitration nor the manner in which arbitrators are to be appointed.

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Singapore Court confirms validity of clauses providing for unilateral right to arbitration

In the recent decision in Dyna-Jet Pte Ltd v Wilson Taylor Asia Pacific Pte Ltd [2016] SGHC 23, the Singapore High Court confirmed the validity of "one-way" or unilateral clauses which bind one party to one dispute resolution method or jurisdiction, but give the other party the option of choosing a different procedure.  This decision is significant as it confirms what was previously assumed to be the position in Singapore.  It also reconfirms that wherever possible the Singapore courts will uphold the agreement of parties on the manner in which they choose to resolve disputes arising between them.   

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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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