Singapore’s secret recipe

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The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) was named the most preferred arbitral institution in the Asia-Pacific, and ranked second in the world, according to the 2021 International Arbitration Survey by Queen Mary University of London and White & Case. The same survey also ranked Singapore and London as equally the most preferred places for international arbitration. Asia Business Law Journal asked the centre’s CEO, Lim Seok Hui, about her strategies, emerging trends in arbitration, and the secret sauce for the centre’s success.

Asia Business Law Journal: Tell us about your strategies towards achieving this milestone, and what makes the SIAC different from other arbitration centres?

Lim Seok Hui: The SIAC has benefited from being headquartered in Singapore. The latest international arbitration survey ranked Singapore, jointly with London, as the most popular place for arbitration globally.

The SIAC is well positioned to support the needs of companies, businesses and investors all over the world by providing a trusted, fair, neutral and independent forum for the efficient, expert and enforceable resolution of international commercial disputes. The benefit that you get is a fair, even-handed process that is final, and time and cost-effective.

When I mentioned fair and neutral, parties often don’t want to bring a dispute for resolution in the home court of the other side’s jurisdiction because of a perceived “home court advantage”. And that is why bringing arbitration into a neutral forum has proven to be immensely popular.

Last year, we handled a total of 1,080 new case filings, including two sets of related cases involving 261 cases and 145 cases. If the two sets of related cases were excluded from the total new caseload, the centre would have had 674 new cases in 2020. This is a significant increase from 2019, and affirms our standing as the world’s second most preferred arbitral institution.

In terms of our strategy, I would take this one step back and talk about the three pillars of the SIAC. The first one would be the international arbitration framework here in Singapore. We have a highly regarded international arbitration ecosystem with a trusted legal system that safeguards the rule of law. We have a pro-arbitration, world-class judiciary, and our arbitration legislation is constantly reviewed and updated to ensure that it is progressive and user friendly.

The second pillar is the SIAC rules. We ensure that the rules are innovative, and offer users a range of time and cost-saving mechanisms. For instance, our rules, which are currently in their sixth edition, adopt globally recognised best practices in international arbitration, and incorporate elements from common law and civil law legal systems.

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