Global arbitration: Singapore ranked 3rd

Republic overtakes HK as Asia's top choice in arbitration for cross-border disputes: Survey

Singapore has switched places with Hong Kong as Asia's most preferred seat of international arbitration for cross-border disputes, according to a global survey.

In the previous survey by the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in 2015, Hong Kong was the most preferred venue for arbitration but Singapore overtook it in the latest survey released last week.

The oft-cited findings also placed Singapore third behind London and Paris globally.

The QMUL International Arbitration Survey was done in partnership with global law firm White & Case.

This eighth edition based its findings on extensive answers from 922 respondents and 142 interviews done globally.

Singapore was rated highly because of its excellent legal ecosystem for arbitration, which included a strong, independent judiciary, great arbitration facilities, top local and international lawyers, and a world-class arbitral institution in the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), said Singapore-based White & Case partner Matthew Secomb.

The SIAC chairman, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, said the "survey findings firmly underscore Singapore's and SIAC's position at the forefront of international arbitration in the world".

SIAC, Singapore's arbitration flagship, received a record 452 new cases last year, making it second only to the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce with 810 cases for 2017 and ahead of the London Court of International Arbitration which registered 285 new cases.

SIAC chief executive officer Lim Seok Hui credited the "milestone achievement" to the "continued unwavering support of our users around the world", who place their trust in the SIAC.

Looking ahead, industry players said Singapore would see more cross-border arbitration work arising from China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

"It's just a question of how big a chunk. Singapore is a natural choice for disputes between Chinese and non-Chinese parties," said Mr Secomb, who is listed in Who's Who Legal as a "Future Leader" in international arbitration.

"Arbitration follows the economy. Thus, logically, arbitration will see growth in sectors and markets that see economic development.

"For Singapore, this means sector-wise growth in sophisticated service sectors such as fintech. Market-wise, the logical growth in disputes will be from the Philippines, the Laos/Cambodia combination and, of course, China."

Mr Secomb noted: "The quality of arbitration participants is critical to arbitration's success. Singapore's track record of being able to both develop home-grown talent, and attract world-class practitioners from elsewhere, has been critical to its success."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2018, with the headline 'Global arbitration: S'pore ranked 3rd'. Subscribe