Singapore to open new commercial court to leverage arbitration strengths

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 December, 2013, 11:46pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 9:38am


Singapore plans to launch an international commercial court that will aid in settling an increasing number of cross-border disputes as Asia's economies boom.

The Ministry of Law said the Singapore International Commercial Court would leverage on robust cross-border investment and trade in Asia, where gross domestic product is expected to triple over this decade to US$34.9 trillion in 2020.

"Against this backdrop, the number and complexity of cross-border disputes is expected to increase, enabling the legal services sector in the Asia Pacific to grow significantly," the ministry said.

It said the court would build on Singapore's reputation as a leading destination for international arbitration, which allows for disputes to be resolved by third-party arbitrators outside of court.

Law Minister K. Shanmugam said Singapore was the "obvious choice" for investors who were looking to have disputes resolved in a transparent and efficient manner.

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre, set up in 1991, last year handled 235 disputes worth US$2.87 billion.

It is considered the fourth most preferred arbitration institution in the world, after similar bodies in Paris, London and New York, according to a survey by international law firm White & Case.

"Building on the success of the arbitration sector in Singapore, the proposed international commercial court will make Singapore an even more attractive venue for dispute resolution in Asia and beyond," the ministry said.

With similar commercial courts in London and Dubai handling a growing number of global cases, "a window of opportunity currently exists for an Asian dispute resolution hub catering to international disputes with an Asian connection", said a report of an international committee that looked into the feasibility of setting up the court.