Global arbitration body to set up office here

Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah and Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) Secretary-General Hugo Siblesz signed an agreement yesterday to set up the new office here. It will allow the PCA to administer the growing number of its cases b
Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah and Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) Secretary-General Hugo Siblesz signed an agreement yesterday to set up the new office here. It will allow the PCA to administer the growing number of its cases being heard in the region, said the PCA and the Ministry of Law.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF LAW

Permanent Court of Arbitration's first Asia office up within 6 months

A new office to serve the dispute- resolution needs of states and businesses in Asia will soon be set up here - the latest in a series of recent developments in international arbitration.

To be housed at the Maxwell Chambers within the next six months, it will be the Permanent Court of Arbitration's (PCA) first office in Asia and second - after Mauritius - outside its Hague headquarters in the Netherlands.

It will allow the PCA to administer the growing number of its cases being heard in the region, said the PCA and the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) in a statement yesterday.

While there were four such cases in 2015, at least seven have been or will be heard in Singapore this year.

Yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah and PCA Secretary-General Hugo Siblesz signed an agreement to set up the new office here, instead of holding dispute-resolution hearings on an ad hoc basis without a staffed office.

Ms Indranee noted that Singapore has been a "client" of the PCA's dispute-resolution services twice: once in 2003 involving Singapore's dispute with Malaysia over land-reclamation activities in the Strait of Johor; and the other in 2012 involving development charges on former Malayan Railway land.

"Significant investor-state arbitrations administered by the PCA, such as the Philip Morris v Australia arbitration, were seated in Singapore" as well, said Mr Siblesz, referring to a case involving the tobacco giant and Australia's plain packaging laws. He said also that the new agreement "opens a new door to expanded cooperation" between the PCA and MinLaw.

PCA's new office will eventually move to the new Maxwell Chambers Suites in 2019 when the complex is completed.

There, it will be housed alongside other international dispute-resolution institutions such as the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

The new agreement will "further augment Singapore's position as an international hub for dispute resolution, and particularly in the new area of investment dispute resolution", said Ms Indranee.

It is the latest in a series of such developments. Last month, it was announced that a new case-management office - allowing international arbitration cases to be handled here - will start operations in the first quarter of next year at Maxwell Chambers. Earlier in the year, legislation was amended allowing third-party funding in international commercial arbitration here, offering businesses an additional financing and risk-management tool.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2017, with the headline 'Global arbitration body to set up office here'. Print Edition | Subscribe