Arbitration centre focused on China, Asean opens in S'pore

The Beihai Asia International Arbitration Centre that opens in Singapore today will provide lower-cost and efficient international arbitration services for small to medium-value disputes in cross-border commercial transactions.

The centre, which will also establish a China-Asean panel of arbitrators in promoting people-to-people exchanges, was set up by the Beihai Arbitration Commission (BAC) based in China's Guanxi province.

"Singapore's position as an international dispute resolution hub is trusted to serve the region for disputes arising from the Belt and Road Initiative, Asian trade cooperation, and investments between Chinese and Asean parties," the commission said yesterday.

Professor Steve Ngo has been appointed as founding president of the centre.

He is a Singaporean arbitration practitioner with experience in China, India, Indonesia and the wider South-east Asian region.

Prof Ngo will be assisted by a panel of committee members.

Beihai Arbitration Commission vice-chairman Zhu Jifan said: "As part of the BAC's continuous expansion into Asean, it has chosen Singapore as its first port of call because of Singapore's position as the legal and financial hub of South-east Asia."

Prof Ngo also said that Singapore remains a trusted, neutral arbitration location: "In recent times, we have seen many disputants finding it prohibitively expensive, and arbitral proceedings becoming increasingly complicated.

"Asia by and large is a price-and cultural-sensitive region where we need to start considering the needs of arbitration users, specifically small and medium-sized enterprises."

SETTLING DISPUTES EFFICIENTLY

In recent times, we have seen many disputants finding it prohibitively expensive, and arbitral proceedings becoming increasingly complicated... Asia by and large is a price-and cultural-sensitive region where we need to start considering the needs of arbitration users, specifically small and medium-sized enterprises.

PROFESSOR STEVE NGO, founding president of the new Beihai Asia International Arbitration Centre, on the importance of the centre.

The centre's arbitration rules, which are based on those of the United Nations, will be modified to include a small claims procedure for faster and more economical disposal of small-value disputes.

The Singapore centre's fees will also be pegged at a "more reasonable" lower level to encourage more disputes to be arbitrated with efficacy, the commission said.

The BAC has set up hearing centres in 29 Chinese cities to provide domestic arbitration services. It recorded over 47,000 cases in China during the first half of this year.

Separately, 46 nations signed the Singapore Convention on Mediation yesterday. The international mediation treaty, named after Singapore, will provide for the enforcement of mediated settlement agreements across countries.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2019, with the headline 'Arbitration centre focused on China, Asean opens in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe