Davinder Singh is new head of SIAC

Mr Singh, 59, is widely recognised as a leading disputes practitioner.
Mr Singh, 59, is widely recognised as a leading disputes practitioner.

He takes over as chairman of arbitration centre from Lucien Wong

Senior Counsel Davinder Singh has been appointed chairman of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre's (SIAC's) board of directors from today.

The appointment comes at a time when the arbitration pie is expanding, with many international parties eyeing Singapore as the arbitration venue of choice.

Mr Singh, chief executive officer of Drew & Napier, takes over as SIAC chair from Mr Lucien Wong, chairman and senior partner of Allen & Gledhill.

Mr Wong, who chaired the SIAC Board from April 1, 2013, stepped down yesterday. It follows his recent appointment as Singapore's next Attorney-General.

Mr Singh, 59, widely recognised as a leading disputes practitioner, also has an active international arbitration practice involving complex commercial disputes and multiple jurisdictions.

He said it was a privilege to succeed Mr Wong as SIAC chairman. "Lucien leaves a hugely impressive legacy, having achieved so much for SIAC."

During Mr Wong's term as SIAC chairman, the centre saw a growth in the number of cases filed and sums involved.

In its 2015 annual report released in February, SIAC said 271 new cases were filed by parties in 55 jurisdictions, a 22 per cent rise from 2014.

The previous record was in 2013, when 259 new cases were filed.

The total sums involved in disputes also grew 24 per cent year on year to $6.23 billion from a year ago.

Mr Wong, who led the expansion of SIAC's operations internationally with the establishment of overseas representative offices in Mumbai, Seoul and Shanghai, said he was confident SC Singh would steer SIAC to "even greater heights".

Singapore has cemented its reputation as the place to arbitrate in the region, said Mr Brian Lee, former chairman of the Institute of Barristers Clerks in the UK, in a speech in London last month.

"Singapore is not about Singapore, it is about Korean companies who now view Singapore as their No. 1 choice of seat.

"They no longer wish to arbitrate in London or New York, unless they have to.

"It is also about Malaysian companies, Indonesia mining companies, even Vietnamese commodity houses wishing to arbitrate in Singapore."

WongPartnership lawyer Chou Sean Yu said SIAC, "which had benefited tremendously under the leadership of Lucien Wong, would certainly gain from Davinder Singh's experience, in this period of continued growth of its international profile".

Law Society president Thio Shen Yi lauded the appointment.

He said: "Davinder is an elder statesman of the disputes bar. His generation, which includes the likes of V. K. Rajah, Justices Andrew Phang and Steven Chong, have set the standards for later generations, including myself, to aspire to and emulate."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2016, with the headline 'Davinder Singh is new head of SIAC'. Print Edition | Subscribe