- Singapore has recognised major shifts in the global landscape.
- Singapore is establishing itself as an international dispute resolution hub to meet the dispute resolution needs of the global marketplace.
- Singapore has adopted a “tripartite approach” in providing court-based litigation, arbitration and mediation services.
- Crucial to the provision of such services are the institutional set-up and the pool of high quality human capital.
- The various Singapore dispute resolution institutions provide international and domestic disputants with access to high quality court-based litigation, arbitration and mediation services and expertise.
- These dovetail with the recommendations of the Subcommittee on Future Growth Industries and Markets of the Singapore Committee on the Future Economy.
In the first part of our blog series, we identified the various Singapore dispute resolution institutions and explained what they do.
By way of recap, the various Singapore dispute resolution institutions (i) consist of the Singapore Judiciary (including the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) as part of the Supreme Court), the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC), the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) and the Singapore International Mediation Institute (SIMI); and (ii) serve different functions in the provision of mediation, arbitration and court-based litigation services.
In the second part of this series, we look at the following question:
(B) Why these various Singapore dispute resolution institutions?
Here, we explore the thinking that underlies the Singapore dispute resolution institutions and how they fit into a larger plan to establish Singapore as an international dispute resolution hub.
There is nowhere better to start than the Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon’s speech on 17 March 2016 at the 2016 Global Pound Conference in Singapore (“CJ Speech”).
In the CJ Speech, the Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon explained that:
The Singapore dispute resolution institutions constitute this array of effective dispute resolution capabilities. As noted by the Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and as explained earlier in the first part of this blog series, the Singapore Judiciary (including SICC as part of the Supreme Court), SIAC, SMC and SIMC provide court-based litigation, arbitration and mediation services.
This complete suite of dispute resolution services was called the “tripartite approach” by Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance, in her closing address at the 2016 Global Pound Conference in Singapore (“SM Address”).
In the SM Address, Ms Indranee Rajah noted three fundamentals to the Singaporean approach to dispute resolution, namely:
On the first fundamental, it is noted that Singapore has taken steps to establish and strengthen the legislative framework for international commercial dispute resolution. In 2016, Singapore ratified the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements and Parliament passed the Choice of Court Agreements Act. In 2017, Parliament passed into law two bills - the Civil Law Amendment Bill (to allow third-party funding to finance international commercial arbitration) and the Mediation Bill (to beef up enforcement of mediated settlement agreements to support international commercial mediation).
On the second fundamental, Ms Indranee Rajah noted that good execution or implementation of a trusted system or framework required high quality human capital – more specifically, high quality judges, lawyers (as litigators and/or arbitrators) and mediators. Indeed, the judges, lawyers and mediators resolve disputes, through court-based litigation, arbitration and mediation.
So put another way, the various Singapore dispute resolution institutions provide disputants, whether domestic or international, with access to a pool of high quality human capital which can help them to resolve their disputes:
As stated in the SM Address by Ms Indranee Rajah, Singapore has “both international law firms with a presence in Singapore, as well as Singapore law firms with regional and international expertise and networks”. The law firms provide the “expertise to advise on deals and disputes of all kinds, or to serve as litigators or arbitrators”. The high quality of Singapore’s lawyers (as litigators and/or arbitrators) is in turn maintained with a system of legal profession standards, regulations, best practices and continuing professional development requirements.
SIMI closes the loop for Singapore’s mediation profession with its Credentialing Scheme, which provides assurance to disputants that Singapore’s mediation profession is in line with best practices and high standards.
In summary of this section:
At this juncture, we would like to tie in the above-mentioned with the report of the Subcommittee on Future Growth Industries and Markets of the Singapore Committee on the Future Economy (“Subcommittee”). By way of context, the 30-member Singapore Committee on the Future Economy was convened in January 2016 to keep the Singapore economy competitive by helping to position Singapore for the future, as well as identify areas of growth with regard to regional and global developments. The Singapore Committee on the Future Economy published its report in February 2017.
One of the themes of the Subcommittee’s recommendations involves “building a vibrant hub services ecosystem”. The Subcommittee envisions Singapore as a nerve centre and global exchange that (i) provides vital business functions that direct the cross-border flows of goods, services, capital and people; and (ii) can harness opportunities arising from Asia’s growing share of global goods, services and capital flows. More specifically, the recommendation for the legal and accounting sectors is to set Singapore up as a trusted global exchange for dispute resolution for international commercial transactions. This recommendation of the Subcommittee dovetails with Singapore’s on-going efforts to establish itself as an international dispute resolution hub.
STAY TUNED. In the third part of this 4-part blog series, “The Singapore Dispute Resolution Institutions – What and Why”, we will examine the question of, "What is SIDRA and what does SIDRA do"
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