Boost for S'pore court decisions worldwide

The decisions of Singapore courts in civil and commercial matters will have greater enforceability worldwide, after the Republic yesterday ratified the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements.

"The ratification will bolster Singapore's position as a dispute-resolution hub in Asia," the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) said in a statement yesterday.

Singapore signed the Hague Convention 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 take place in Singapore.

This will strengthen the enforcement of agreements that have specified Singapore courts as their exclusive dispute-resolution forum, MinLaw said.

Choice of court agreements are clauses in cross-border business contracts, in which parties agree in advance about the court that they would like to resolve any legal disputes that may arise.

In addition, the court's judgment must be recognised and enforced by courts of all other parties bound by the convention.

It includes decisions of the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC), which heard its first case in November last year.

The convention will come into force for Singapore on Oct 1.

This follows the passing of the Choice of Court Agreements Act in Parliament in April, which paves the way for Singapore to be the first country to implement the obligations of the convention under a dedicated piece of legislation.

Currently 28 countries are party to the convention, including 27 of the 28 European Union states and Mexico. Denmark is the only EU member state which is not a party, while the United States and Ukraine have signed the convention, but have not yet ratified it.

Ms Thian Yee Sze, director- general of MinLaw's legal group, deposited the instrument of ratification at a special ceremony yesterday at a commission organised by the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

Ng Huiwen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2016, with the headline 'Boost for S'pore court decisions worldwide'. Print Edition | Subscribe