Singapore introduces default procedure for multi-party arbitration appointments

Out-Law News | 03 Feb 2021 | 11:29 am | 1 min. read

The Singapore government has amended its International Arbitration Act (SIAA) to introduce a default procedure for appointment of arbitrators in multi-party arbitrations.

The amendments also give Singapore-seated arbitral tribunals and the Singapore High Court the power to enforce confidentiality obligations.

Under the new default procedure, for arbitrations involving three arbitrators with multiple parties involved, all claimants will jointly appoint one arbitrator and all respondents will jointly appoint another arbitrator. These two arbitrators will then jointly appoint the third, presiding arbitrator.

If any of the appointments cannot be agreed within a specified timeframe, the appointing authority – which, by default, is the president of the Court of Arbitration of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), will make the appointment.

Arbitration expert Rakesh Nelson of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: "The introduction of a default mode of appointment of a three-member arbitration will reduce delays in the conduct of arbitration proceedings and brings Singapore’s international arbitration regime in line with the current procedures set out in the rules of leading arbitral institutions such as the ICC, LCIA, SIAC and HKIAC."

Under the amended SIAA, confidentiality obligations will be enforceable by a Singapore-seated tribunal and the Singapore High Court, regardless of whether the obligations arise in the parties’ written agreement, under any written law or rule of law, or under any rules of arbitration adopted by the parties.

Nelson said: "While the IAA does not go so far as to codify parties’ confidentiality obligations, which is the approach adopted in other jurisdictions such as in Hong Kong, this recent amendment will strengthen parties abilities to enforce existing obligations and reflects the emphasis Singapore places on ensuring that parties comply with their obligations."

The amendments follow a consultation launched by Singapore’s Ministry of Law (MinLaw) in 2019, aimed at giving parties more flexibility to tailor the arbitration process to individual requirements.

The amended act does not include all provisions that were consulted on. Among those not brought forward was a proposal to allow parties to request an early decision on jurisdiction, allowing them to save time and costs, and a proposal to allow parties to opt into the ability to appeal a question of law arising out of an arbitral award.

The amendments came into force on 1 December 2020.