Evolving Asia, New Frontiers in Dispute Resolution: CIArb (Malaysia Branch) International Arbitration Conference 2018 Keynote Address

At the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Malaysia Branch) International Arbitration Conference 2018, Peter Godwin, the Managing Partner of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Kuala Lumpur office gave a keynote address. The topic of the address was “Evolving Asia, New Frontiers in Dispute Resolution”.

The text of Peter’s keynote is set out below.

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SIAC issues proposal for consolidation of arbitral proceedings between institutions

On 19 December 2017, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) released a proposal on cross-institution cooperation and consolidation of arbitral proceedings conducted under different arbitral rules (the SIAC Proposal).

SIAC has invited comments on its Proposal by 31 January 2018. The memorandum enclosing the SIAC Proposal can be accessed here.

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SIAC opens Representative Office in Gujarat International Finance Tec-city (GIFT) India

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has opened its second representative office in India in the International Financial Services Centre (GIFT IFSC) in GIFT, Gujarat, to assist in the promotion of international commercial arbitration

Pursuant to Prime Minister Modi’s push to grow India as an international arbitration hub and the push for institutional arbitration in India (see here and here), the opening of the SIAC’s second representative office is a welcome development in the Indian arbitration landscape.

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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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Singapore International Mediation Centre is launched, offering parties an “Arb-Med-Arb” process in partnership with SIAC

The Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) was officially launched on 5 November 2014. Set up following the recommendations of a Working Group chaired by Edwin Glasgow CBE QC and George Lim SC, the SIMC will supplement the array of international dispute resolution options available in Singapore. In particular, the SIMC will work closely with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) to promote mediation within international arbitration through a new ‘Arb-Med-Arb’ protocol (“AMA Protocol“).

Key features and procedure of the Arb-Med-Arb Protocol

The new model AMA Protocol allows a party to commence arbitration under the auspices of the SIAC, and then proceed to mediation under the SIMC. In practice, parties will, as they would in a regular arbitration, commence proceedings under the AMA Protocol by filing with the Registrar of the SIAC a Notice of Arbitration. The Registrar of the SIAC will inform SIMC of the arbitration within four working days from its commencement (or, if parties had not adopted the AMA Protocol at the outset, from the agreement of the parties to refer to their dispute to mediation under the AMA Protocol). After the filing of the Response to the Notice of Arbitration, and the subsequent constitution of the Tribunal, the Tribunal will stay the arbitration for mediation at SIMC. Upon receipt of the case file from the SIAC, the SIMC will fix a date for the commencement of mediation at SIMC (“Mediation Commencement Date“), which will be conducted under the SIMC Mediation Rules. Unless the Registrar of SIAC in consultation with the SIMC extends the time, the mediation shall be completed within eight weeks of the Mediation Commencement Date.

Under the AMA Protocol, the arbitrator(s) and the mediator(s) will be separately and independently appointed by SIAC and SIMC respectively, under the applicable arbitration rules and mediation rules of eac-h Centre. To ensure impartiality of both processes, the arbitrator(s) and mediator(s) will usually be different individuals, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. This represents a departure from the traditional understanding in Asia of the arb-med process in which arbitration and mediation proceedings are conducted by the same person.

It is also worth noting that all mediations conducted under the rules and auspices of the SIMC (which would include mediations under the AMA Protocol) are private, confidential, and without prejudice, unless otherwise agreed by the parties.

If the mediation is successful, the settlement is taken back to the tribunal to be recorded in the form of a consent award. A consent award is generally accepted as an arbitral award and, subject to any local legislation and/or requirements, is generally enforceable in the approximately 150 New York Convention member states. The non-justiciable elements of any mediated settlement (for example, settled disputes that fall outside the scope of the arbitration agreement and hence the tribunal’s jurisdiction) would need to be recorded in a separate settlement agreement (which would not be enforceable under the New York Convention). Parties who cannot settle their disputes through mediation may continue with the arbitration proceedings.

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