SINGAPORE - The decisions of Singapore courts in civil or commercial matters will soon carry more weight worldwide, under a new Bill tabled in Parliament by Law Minister K Shanmugam on Monday (April 4).
If passed, the Choice of Court Agreements Bill 2016 will be the first step towards Singapore ratifying the Hague Convention, which it signed on March 25 last year.
Under this Convention, if a Singapore court has been chosen to preside over a dispute under what is known as an "exclusive choice of court agreement", the hearing must be held in Singapore.
And the judgment by the Singapore court must be recognised and enforced by the courts of all other countries that are party to the Convention, the Law Ministry said in a press release on Monday.
Likewise, Singapore will be obliged to recognise and uphold the decision by a foreign court that is bound by the Hague Convention.
"Choice of court agreements" are clauses in cross-border business contracts, in which parties agree in advance which court they would like to resolve any legal disputes that may arise.
This latest step comes as Singapore seeks to establish itself as an international arbitration hub. The Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) had heard its first case in November last year.
The Law Ministry said the ratification of the Convention "will make the SICC a more attractive dispute settlement option as a neutral litigation venue".
It added that stakeholders like the judiciary, Law Society, lawyers and academics were "actively consulted" before signing the Convention and in the drafting of the Bill.
The Convention came into force on Oct 1 last year.
There are now 28 countries which are party to the Convention, including 27 of the 28 European Union states - except Denmark - as well as Mexico.
The United States and Ukraine, like Singapore, have signed the Convention but have not yet ratified it, the Law Ministry added.