New list set up for efficient resolution of technically complex commercial disputes

Under the Technology, Infrastructure and Construction List, parties and those involved in technically complex cases like building and construction disputes can expect more effective resolutions in court.
Under the Technology, Infrastructure and Construction List, parties and those involved in technically complex cases like building and construction disputes can expect more effective resolutions in court.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Those involved in technology-related disputes and disputes relating to infrastructure and construction projects can expect expeditious resolutions under a new list established by the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC).

Under the Technology, Infrastructure and Construction (TIC) List, parties such as architects, surveyors, accountants and those involved in technically complex cases like building and construction disputes can expect more effective resolutions in court.

Claims relating to computer systems and computer software may also be placed on the TIC List, which has been effective since Aug 31.

SICC said a case placed on the TIC List will benefit from additional case management features to expedite the resolution of technically complex disputes, as such disputes usually involve many contracts, multiple parties and voluminous evidence.

Under the TIC List, parties can all join one hearing, thus enhancing the dispute resolution landscape for complex disputes.

"With the consent of parties, a case or matter commenced in or transferred to the SICC may be placed in the TIC List by the court," said SICC.

A case is eligible for the TIC List when it involves technically complex issues. The nature of the dispute must also be such that trial by a TIC judge is desirable.

Justice Sir Vivian Ramsey, an international judge and a specialist TIC judge, said: "I have seen many complex multimillion-dollar project disputes get bogged down for years due to the sheer number of related contracts and parties involved."

He added: "With the introduction of the TIC List, parties may now adopt the Simplified Adjudication Process Protocol and resolve a large number of distinct smaller-value claims pegged to the decision of the Court on substantive ones."

Lawyer Keith Han, partner and co-head of the restructuring and insolvency practice at Oon & Bazul, told The Straits Times that parties with complex and cross-jurisdictional building and construction, infrastructure and/or technology disputes involving a large amount of technical and expert evidence are likely to benefit from the TIC List.

He noted that having more efficient case management processes and specialised procedures will save a significant amount of time and costs for the parties, given that these disputes are highly complex.

Lawyer Shaun Leong, a partner in the litigation and arbitration team at Withers KhattarWong, agreed, adding that parties may expect substantial savings on court fees of 30 per cent or more.

“In terms of the time that is expected to resolve the dispute, which has a direct correlation to legal fees, one can expect a matter administered by leading international arbitration centres to be resolved as quickly as a matter placed before the TIC List.”

Mr Leong added: “The general rule is that the more complex the dispute is, the longer it takes to resolve it.” 

Both lawyers agreed that the establishment of the TIC List is a good move, with Mr Leong noting that the list complements the expected increase in the demand for dispute resolution services, which stems from the rise of infrastructure projects in the Asean region.

The TIC List will be beneficial in providing a useful forum for resolving any disputes which may arise from this infrastructure growth, added Mr Leong.

Mr Han said: “The English courts have had a specialist Technology and Construction Court for a number of years, which hears an impressive array of cases.

“The establishment of the TIC List by SICC is likely to make Singapore (and the SICC) a more attractive place for the resolution of TIC disputes, particularly those with an Asian nexus.”