Record 2015 results for arbitration centre

SIAC saw 271 new cases filed and handled total dispute sum of $6.23b

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has entered its Silver Jubilee year on the back of groundbreaking results in its 2015 report card.

It saw 271 new cases filed, administered 244 and handled a total dispute sum of $6.23 billion - all three annual figures being the highest since it was set up in 1991.

"(The year)2015 pushed the envelope both in terms of case numbers as well as new projects and initiatives," said SIAC chairman Lucien Wong yesterday at its annual appreciation event.

The SIAC, known for its high- quality and neutral arbitration services, has more than 400 expert arbitrators from 40 jurisdictions.

An SIAC Court of Arbitration, comprising 18 eminent practitioners from around the world, supervises case administration and appoints arbitrators for cases.

The $6.23 billion total sum for dispute claims last year was a 24 per cent rise from the $5.04 billion total in 2014. The highest individual claim amount was $2.03 billion - a reflection that the SIAC continues to handle some of the largest and most complex arbitrations in the world. Disputes include commercial and maritime matters.

Industry players say the SIAC's latest report card affirms its position as one of the world's leading and fastest-growing arbitral institutions, having received more than 220 new cases each year since 2012.

The 271 new cases last year came from parties in 55 jurisdictions - the top three being India, China and South Korea.

More than eight out of every 10 cases filed last year were international in nature, meaning they included at least one foreign party.

Senior Counsel Cavinder Bull, vice-president of the SIAC Court of Arbitration, said the caseload increase "reflects the confidence that businesses and the international arbitration community has in Singapore".

He added: "As long as we continue to provide a world-class service, the SIAC will continue to attract a significant number of large international arbitrations to Singapore.

"This in turn will result in the legal profession in Singapore sharpening their skills and playing a leading role in the resolution of cross-border disputes."

The SIAC Arbitration Court's other vice-president, Mr John Savage, said Singapore's edge includes a "superb arbitration facility at Maxwell Chambers" and "an enviable reputation for neutrality and independence that is found in very few other places in the region".

"I expect key areas of growth will include Australia, as the resources boom there ends and more and bigger disputes emerge, and Russia, where companies are increasingly looking to Singapore, rather than England, for their international dispute resolution."

WongPartnership lawyer Chou Sean Yu pointed out that the SIAC has become a brand name reinforced by "a very strong, robust and independent court system".

Currently, five Singapore firms - Drew & Napier, Allen&Gledhill, Rajah & Tann, WongPartnership and Rodyk & Davidson - are in the GAR 100 list, an indication of the international arbitration capabilities of law firms worldwide. It is compiled by respected industry publication Global Arbitration Review.

The SIAC plans to open a Shanghai branch next week, its third overseas office after Mumbai and Seoul.

"The Shanghai office will serve as a platform for us to work with key stakeholders in the Chinese arbitration community to develop international arbitration, and enable us to forge closer ties with existing and potential Chinese arbitration users," said Mr Wong.

The move comes ahead of a licence granted earlier this week by the Chinese authorities to major arbitration rival the International Chamber of Commerce to open a representative office in Shanghai's Free Trade Zone.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2016, with the headline 'Record 2015 results for arbitration centre'. Print Edition | Subscribe