On 2 March 2015, SIAC hosted its Annual Appreciation Event for 2015 at the Parkroyal on Pickering Hotel. Over 170 members of Singapore’s legal elite gathered at the event to commemorate SIAC’s accomplishments in 2014, to pay tribute to a champion of SIAC and its development, and to ring in an exciting new era for arbitration in Singapore.

Born to lead SIAC Court

The first highlight of the event was the announcement that Mr Gary Born, Chair of the International Arbitration Practice Group at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, will succeed Dr Michael Pryles as President of the SIAC Court of Arbitration. Mr Born will commence his new role on 1 April 2015.

Dr Pryles will step down after having served two years as the Founder President of the SIAC Court. He took on the role following the overhaul of SIAC’s governance structure in April 2013. Prior to the restructure, he also served four years as the Chairman of the SIAC Board of Directors from 2009 to 2013. Dr Pryles can boast many impressive accomplishments, including that under his stewardship SIAC’s new caseload more than doubled and the Centre was transformed from a modest regional arbitration centre into one of the leading international arbitral institutions. Dr Pryles will remain a member of the SIAC Court.

It comes as no surprise that someone of Mr Born’s calibre was chosen to succeed Dr Pryles. He is renowned as one of the world’s leading arbitration advocates and is the author of numerous (and voluminous) treatises on arbitration. Most recently, Mr Born released his long awaited draft proposal of a “bilateral arbitration treaty” under which disputes between companies from contracting States would be resolved by default through international arbitration in an effort to reduce costs and simplify the dispute resolution process. In this light, it goes without saying that “Born” is a household name in the arbitration community akin to the likes of “Redfern and Hunter”. Mr Born is also no stranger to the duties and mechanics of the SIAC Court, having served as a member since 2012.

The Singapore arbitration community looks forward to learning of the initiatives Mr Born will spearhead during his presidency of the SIAC Court.

New members for SIAC Court

As Mr Born’s first order of business, he announced the appointment of five new members to the SIAC Court of Arbitration. The new members are Ms Claudia Annacker of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Mr Lijun Cao of Zhong Lun Law Firm, Mr Toby Landau QC of Essex Court Chambers, Dr Eun Young Park of Kim & Chang (who will serve concurrently as a member of SIAC’s Board of Directors) and Ms Lucy Reed of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. These appointments will also take effect from 1 April 2015.

The new members mentioned above replace four outgoing members of the SIAC Court, being Mr Hiroo Advani of Advani & Co., Mr Doak Bishop of King & Spalding LLP, Professor Julian Lew QC of 20 Essex Street and Mr Sean (Sungwoo) Lim of Lee & Ko.

SIAC Caseload Statistics for 2014

Another highlight of the event was the release of SIAC’s Annual Report 2014 which canvasses SIAC’s annual caseload statistics for last year. A few of the key findings from the report are set out below.

SIAC received 222 new cases in 2014. While this is the first time in three years that SIAC has experienced a slight drop in the number of new cases, it was nevertheless a strong performance for the Centre which has consistently maintained caseload levels of over 220 new cases each year since 2012.

SIAC received cases involving parties from 58 jurisdictions in 2014, of which 81% were international in nature (i.e. where at least one or both parties were not Singaporean).

The top five nationalities (excluding Singapore) of parties involved in new cases filed with SIAC were: (1) China with 41 cases; (2) USA with 38 cases; (3) India with 37 cases; (4) Hong Kong with 27 cases; and (5) Malaysia and the United Kingdom, both with 21 cases each. A noteworthy change is the significant increase in popularity for SIAC arbitration among US parties, who rose from being the 5th most common nationality in 2013 to a close 2nd in 2014.

The three governing laws that were most commonly chosen in new cases filed in 2014 were: (1) Singapore law with 49%; (2) English law with 25%; and (3) Indian law with 4%. This represents a 4.5% increase in the number of cases where Singapore law was chosen as the governing law as compared to 2013. In this regard, Dr Pryles commented at the event that Singapore law is increasingly chosen as the governing law in contracts, even where none of the parties involved are Singaporean. This reflects what many practitioners are seeing in practice, in that non-Singaporean parties based elsewhere in Asia are growing more and more comfortable with selecting Singapore law to govern their contracts.

SIAC received and accepted 12 applications to appoint an emergency arbitrator in 2014. This takes the total number of such applications accepted since the inception of the emergency procedure in July 2010 to 42, and puts SIAC at the forefront amongst other institutions in this area.

SIAC was involved with four investor-state cases in 2014. This is a significant milestone as it marks the first time investor-state cases have been referred to SIAC.

The SIAC Annual Report 2014 also provides an overview of several significant initiatives undertaken by SIAC last year. For instance, SIAC collaborated with the newly launched Singapore International Mediation Centre (“SIMC”) to offer Arb-Med-Arb services. Under this process, a dispute referred to arbitration may be held in abeyance while the parties attempt mediation. If the dispute is resolved by mediation, the parties’ mediated settlement may be recorded as a consent award which will be more readily enforceable under the New York Convention. Otherwise, if the dispute is not resolved by mediation then the parties can resume the arbitration proceedings.

Upcoming events

Finally, several upcoming events were highlighted during the event.

The YSIAC Conference on “The Dynamics and Challenges of International Arbitration – The Road Ahead” will be held on Thursday, 4 June 2015, at Maxwell Chambers in Singapore. Unlike your average run-of-the-mill seminar, this conference promises to set itself apart with interactive “speed-conferencing” sessions (being the conference equivalent of “speed-dating” but with far fewer phone numbers exchanged). The conference will also feature plenary sessions with members of the SIAC Court and other eminent arbitration experts, to discuss advocacy skills and tips and traps for junior counsel in an arbitration team. Those interested can register for the event online, but be quick – the early bird rate for registration ends on 4 May 2015.

GAR Live is also set to return to Singapore and will be held the day after the YSIAC Conference on 5 June 2015. Stay tuned for more details on this event.

Zara Shafruddin
Jones Day, Singapore

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[From left to right] Lim Seok Hui, Lucien Wong [From left to right] Gary Born, Lucien Wong [From left to right] Lim Seok Hui, Michael Hwang SC, Lucy Reed, Gary Born
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Gary Born with members of the legal community [From left to right] Lucien Wong, Dr Michael Pryles [From left to right] Lim Seok Hui, Simon Dunbar, Foo Yuet Min, Suzanne Meiklejohn, Darius Chan
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