18 July 2017
Confidential and Restricted-Access Information in International Commercial Arbitration
(Elliott Geisinger, Partner, Schellenberg Wittmer Ltd)

By Elan Krishna, Senior Associate, Clifford Chance Asia

The YSIAC Lunchtime Event titled ‘’Confidential and Restricted-Access Information in International Commercial Arbitration’’, was held at Clifford Chance, Singapore, on 18 July 2017. The event attracted over 130 attendees, comprising corporate counsel, practising lawyers and academics.

The instructive session centered on the topic of confidentiality in arbitration, rather than confidentiality of arbitration (on which much has been written). The issue of confidential information is a significant one and arises frequently in international commercial arbitration, for example, in determining the impact of certain regulations (such as anti-trust regulations), on the conduct of proceedings, and the need for redacted information.

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Welcome Address delivered by Kevin Nash

Members of the audience

First, Mr Geisinger observed that confidentiality restrictions are meant to protect various legally recognised interests: (1) private interests (such as trade secrets and pricing strategies), (2) public interests (such as defence secrets and interests of the community represented by the State, like competition law), and (3) hybrid interests (such as data protection and legal privilege).

Second, he noted that while most institutional rules provided for general and broad powers of arbitrators to conduct proceedings as they deem appropriate and to decide on the admissibility of evidence, making such determinations in practice is often a complicated exercise.

He gave the example of an arbitration where he sat as an arbitrator. The disclosing party was given the choice of providing redacted documents or unredacted versions which would be disclosed to a limited group of individuals. The disclosing party chose to provide redacted documents and when there was a dispute as to the extent of the redactions, Mr Geisinger and his tribunal members had to render a 21-page procedural order to resolve the issue.

This raises the broader question of whether an arbitral tribunal should be given access to unredacted documents that one party does not have access to. Similar issues would arise when a party's expert issues "censored" and "uncensored" versions of expert reports. Mr Geisinger cautioned that this raises natural justice and due process concerns, and that an arbitral tribunal should be extremely slow to seek information that the least-informed party to the arbitration does not have access to.

To deal with this issue, it is increasingly common for parties and arbitral tribunal to agree to restrict the circle of recipients of confidential material. The terms "Counsel eyes only", "Tribunal's eyes only" and "Confidentiality clubs" have become part of the arbitration vocabulary. Mr Geisinger warned that whatever arrangement is agreed, there is still a need for appropriate confidentiality undertakings, including undertakings on the destruction of documents after the arbitration is completed. Such arrangements would only work if there is sufficient trust in the parties given access to the confidential material.

Third, the issue of confidentiality also arises in the issuance of the award. Arbitral tribunals have dealt with this by a variety of means, including, (1) issuing a single award without the confidential information, and (2) issuing two awards: one with "complete" reasons, and another "redacted"/ "censored" award.

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Elliott Geisinger

Left to Right: Lijun Chui and Elliott Geisinger

Mr Geisinger noted that the form of the award was a crucial issue, and one that required the parties' agreement or the arbitral tribunal's ruling on at an early stage. Otherwise, there might be major problems downstream. For example, if there were no parties’ agreement or tribunal’s ruling on whether the award was to contain reasons, and the arbitral tribunal did not set out its reasoning for its decision in the award, parties would face difficulty deciding whether or not to challenge the award, or would have no basis for such a challenge. Equally, at the enforcement of award stage, the enforcing court would not be able to decide whether the reasoning of the arbitral tribunal was open to scrutiny.

Fourth, Mr Geisinger discussed the notions of due process and equal treatment in dealing with the issue of confidentiality in arbitration. He noted that while these could be waived (unilaterally or by agreement) and that the arbitral tribunal had broad powers in the conduct of proceedings, such powers should be exercised with restraint and it was paramount to maintain trust between the parties and the arbitral tribunal.

He also highlighted the lack of uniformity in national legislation on the issue of confidentiality in arbitration, as well as the concomitant need to have regard to the law and judicial practice at the seat of the arbitration and the place of enforcement.

Finally, he closed by noting that there was no single response in practice because there was no single legal standard and a wide diversity in potential scenarios. His general recommendation was to identify potential confidentiality concerns as early as possible in the proceedings and to seek agreement between the parties and the arbitral tribunal at the outset.

14 July 2017
SIAC Seminar on "The Confluence of Civil Law and Common Law Influences in International Arbitration Practice and Procedure"

By Masao Fujino, Managing Associate, Orrick

On 14 July 2017, SIAC held a seminar at Nishimura & Asahi in Tokyo, titled, “The Confluence of Civil Law and Common Law Influences in International Arbitration Practice and Procedure”. An audience of over 70 attendees, comprising corporate counsel, practising lawyers and academics, attended the seminar.

In the first panel discussion, the civil law influences in international arbitration were discussed and examined by the civil law-trained practitioners. The panel was moderated by Mr Hiroyuki Tezuka (Member, SIAC Court of Arbitration; Partner, Nishimura & Asahi) and was comprised of Mr Aoi Inoue (Member, YSIAC committee; Partner, Anderson Mori & Tomotsune), Ms Yoshimi Ohara (Partner, Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu), Dr Eun Young Park (Member, SIAC Court of Arbitration; Partner, Kim & Chang) and Mr Mugi Sekido (Partner, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto).

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Members of the audience during Welcome Address by Hiroyuki Tezuka

Left to Right: Aoi Inoue, Yoshimi Ohara, Hiroyuki Tezuka, Dr Eun Young Park and Mugi Sekido

The civil law-trained panellists were of the view that the court procedures in civil law jurisdictions were more efficient than the court procedures in common law jurisdictions. Mr Inoue commented that parties could exchange arguments more efficiently in civil law procedures by presenting all their important arguments and evidence at the initial stages, whereas common law court procedures allowed the parties to present their important arguments late in the proceedings, even after extensive discovery had taken place. Mr Tezuka pointed out that civil law-trained arbitrators would sometimes try to clarify the issues in dispute after the first round of document submission, whilst this would be an uncommon practice for common law-trained arbitrators. Mr Sekido shared his personal experience in an arbitration where the common law-trained arbitrators had allowed additional exchanges of briefs requested by the other party, upholding a party’s right to present their case, even though the adverse party’s arguments, in substance, were not entirely convincing.

In the second panel discussion, the common law influences in international arbitration were discussed and examined by the common law-trained practitioners. Mr Haig Oghigian (Senior Counsel, Squire Patton Boggs) was the moderator and the panellists were Mr Chris Bailey (Partner, King & Spalding), Mr Chan Leng Sun, SC (Deputy Chairman, SIAC Board of Directors; Principal, Baker McKenzie. Wong & Leow) and Mr Chong Yee Leong (Member, SIAC Board of Directors; Partner, Allen & Gledhill).

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Common law-trained panellists during the second panel discussion

Left to Right: Chris Bailey, Haig Oghigian, Lim Seok Hui, Hiroyuki Tezuka, Dr Eun Young Park, Chan Leng Sun, SC, Chong Yee Leong, Yoshimi Ohara, Mugi Sekido and Aoi Inoue

The common law-trained practitioners were sceptical whether, given the nature of civil law procedure, all relevant facts would be adduced in a pure civil law proceeding. Mr Bailey mentioned that in many disputes, most of one’s time and attention would be spent on examining and analysing the facts of the case, and not on the arbitral rules or procedures. In his view, what was most needed in international arbitration was a flexible set of arbitral rules or procedures that could be made applicable to a wide variety of factual scenarios. Mr Chong added that current international arbitration practice and procedure was a hybrid system of common law and civil law influences, as requests for documents were allowed, but only when a party had shown that the opposing party had a relevant document that is material to the outcome of the case. Parties were also given a limited time for cross examination. Noting that US procedures, such as depositions and unlimited discovery, had not been adopted in international arbitration, Mr Chan commented that civil law jurisdictions have probably had a greater influence in shaping this aspect of international arbitration practice as compared to common law jurisdictions.

In the last session, the civil law and common law-trained panellists from the first two sessions came together for a joint Q&A segment. One question raised by the audience was whether there were any significant differences regarding privilege rules between common law jurisdictions and civil law jurisdictions. Ms Ohara explained that in common law jurisdictions, due to the broad scope of discovery obligations, privilege rules exist as a means for parties to refuse to produce their correspondence with their attorneys. In contrast, in civil law jurisdictions, as there were no broad discovery obligations, attorneys were only bound by confidentiality obligations. She further explained that for international arbitrations, the IBA rules have dealt with these differences in practice by stating that arbitrators may exclude evidence based on privilege, but should also take into account considerations of fairness and equality between the parties.

Another issue discussed during the joint Q&A segment was whether a party should choose arbitrators from civil law jurisdictions when the seat of arbitration was a civil law jurisdiction. Mr Inoue answered that if the governing law was the national law of a civil law jurisdiction and the parties were from civil law jurisdictions, generally speaking, parties should choose civil law arbitrators because they would be more familiar with the traditions and substantive laws of civil law jurisdictions. Mr Oghigian added that his personal stance was that the issues to be adjudicated on were more important than where an arbitrator was from. On this issue, Mr Tezuka pointed out that common law arbitrators would tend to render broader interim measures. Dr Park also explained that since procedural rules of international arbitrations were not prescriptive and arbitrators had the power to decide actual procedures, following from common law practice, arbitrators from common law jurisdictions would tend to be more flexible in granting interim relief.SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

10 August 2017
SIAC Opens its Second Representative Office in India in GIFT

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) is pleased to announce that it has opened a second representative office in India (after its Mumbai representative office which was established in 2013), in the International Financial Services Centre in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT IFSC), Gujarat. This is pursuant to the Memorandum of Agreement entered into last year between SIAC, the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Company Limited (GIFTCL) and GIFT SEZ Limited (GIFT SEZ).

Mr Ajay Pandey, MD and Group CEO of GIFTCL, said, "We are delighted that SIAC has opened an office in GIFT IFSC. We believe SIAC will provide a neutral and independent dispute resolution platform to parties, thereby enabling them to undertake large international financial transactions from GIFT IFSC. GIFT companies will also start adopting SIAC's model clause as their preferred dispute resolution clause for international contracts exceeding a certain value. With increasing participation by international and domestic parties in GIFT IFSC, an international dispute resolution mechanism will be useful in making GIFT IFSC a global financial hub along the lines of London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York." Ms Lim Seok Hui, CEO of SIAC, commented that "SIAC greatly values its Indian users who have contributed significantly to the success of SIAC as one of the world's premier arbitral institutions. Opening a second SIAC office in India in GIFT IFSC will allow SIAC to participate in GIFT's economic development through the provision of a world-class dispute resolution mechanism to businesses and investors within GIFT IFSC, and will deepen SIAC's existing ties with the legal and business communities in India."

For more information please contact:

Singapore International Arbitration Centre
T: +65 6713 9777
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
W: www.siac.org.sg

27 June 2017
SIAC Seminar on "Crystal Ball Gazing into the Future of International Arbitration"

By Saemee Kim, Associate, Lee & Ko

On 27 June 2017, SIAC held a successful seminar at Kim & Chang in Seoul, titled “Crystal Ball Gazing into the Future of International Arbitration”, which provided an insightful and practical discussion on the future of international arbitration. The panel, moderated by Dr. Eun Young Park (Kim & Chang, member of the SIAC Court of Arbitration), was composed of Gary Born (Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP; President of the SIAC Court of Arbitration), Matthew Christensen (Bae, Kim and Lee LLC), Robert Wachter (Lee & Ko), Sae Youn Kim (Yulchon LLC) and Jun Hee Kim (Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd). An audience of over 70 corporate counsel, practising lawyers and academics attended the seminar.

Dr. Eun Young Park kicked off the session with his welcome address and introduced the eight issues selected in advance by the attendees during the online registration: (1) Winter is coming: defending international arbitration: (2) Prospects of international arbitration in Korea and the APEC region, (3) Third-party funding (TPF); (4) Emergency Arbitration (EA), (5) Selecting an arbitral institution, (6) Arbitrator diversity; (7) Brexit’s impact on arbitration; and (8) Time limits for rendering of awards.

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Dr. Eun Young Park delivering Welcome Address

Members of the audience

Inspired by the Game of Thrones, Mr. Born began the discussion with the pithy phrase, “Winter is coming for international arbitration”. Continuing the Game of Thrones metaphor, he explained that after 30 years of a warm, peaceful, and constructive summer in which commercial arbitration and investment arbitration flourished, it was now time to defend arbitration from attacks by its critics.

Mr. Christensen shared a more optimistic view, citing the recent enactment of the Arbitration Promotion Act in Korea as an indication of positive prospects for international arbitration in Korea. Adding the perspective of an in-house counsel, Mr. Kim commented that although arbitration is not perfect, its flexibility and adaptability make it attractive to users.

As the discussion turned to the topical issues of TPF and EA, Mr. Born suggested that TPF may raise issues such as counsel ethics, disclosure obligations, and the authority of tribunals to order disclosure, which will need to be carefully managed. Ms. Kim explained that the traditional fee arrangement prevalent in Korea, which shares the litigation risk between counsel and clients, may explain TPF’s slow uptake in Korea. However, she stressed that TPF is not prohibited under Korean law and encouraged Korean lawyers to consider the change.

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Left to Right: Matthew Christensen, Jun Hee Kim and Gary Born

Left to Right: Dr. Eun Young Park, Kim Sae Youn and Robert Wachter

Dr. Park then raised the intriguing question of whether the EA mechanism is “good, bad or ugly.” For Mr. Born, the “ugly” part is the short turnaround time for respondents to respond. Nonetheless, the panellists agreed that EA is indispensable, and access to justice for parties outweighs the challenges for lawyers arising from the short time periods in an EA.

Regarding arbitral institutions, Mr. Wachter identified three issues to consider when selecting an institution: how the institution would select the presiding arbitrator of the tribunal, costs, and how fast the award would be rendered.

As the discussion moved to arbitrator diversity, the recent Arbitrator Intelligence (AI) project grabbed the audience’s interest. While Mr. Wachter suggested that AI could inadvertently create barriers to entry for minorities or young practitioners, as those candidates would likely have limited profiles, Mr. Born suggested that AI would actually increase arbitrator diversity by providing users with more information about lesser known candidates.

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Left to Right: Seah Lee, Matthew Christensen,
Robert Wachter, Gary Born, Kim Sae Youn,
Dr. Eun Young Park and Jun Hee Kim

Gary Born with members of the audience

Ms. Kim shared her view that Brexit will not necessarily affect international arbitration in England, although the attractiveness of the English courts as a forum for dispute resolution could be affected by the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Brussels Convention.

As for the last issue concerning time limits for rendering of awards, Mr. Kim shared his experience with respect to Indian arbitrations and emphasised that in addition to the efficiency of the arbitration proceedings, users should also be aware of potential issues at the enforcement stage, which might impact on the overall efficiency of the arbitration mechanism.

Mr. Born concluded the seminar with a reminder to the audience of the importance of arbitration, and a clarion call for arbitration lawyers to become a “hunter instead of being hunted.”

9 June 2017
YSIAC Conference 2017

The YSIAC Conference 2017, held in Singapore on 9 June 2017, attracted almost 200 delegates from 12 jurisdictions, with delegates attending from places as far away as Sint Maarten, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Left to right: Davinder Singh, SC, Koh Swee Yen,
Lim Seok Hui, Gary Born and Duncan Matthews QC

Members of the audience

The theme of this year’s Conference was “Evolution and Innovation: Keeping Pace with the Future of Arbitration”, which explored the various innovations in international arbitration and how one should evaluate, approach and keep pace with these innovations.

The Conference kicked off with a Welcome Address by Mr Davinder Singh, SC (CEO, Drew & Napier LLC; Chairman, SIAC Board of Directors). In his speech, Mr Singh highlighted SIAC’s commitment towards bright, young arbitration practitioners from all around the world, who were “hungry to get their first appointments as arbitrators” and make a name for themselves in the international arbitration field. Mr Singh said he was impressed and touched by the determination, drive, energy and enthusiasm of these young arbitration practitioners, who lacked only the right opportunities, and who would be committed to devote a great deal of time and attention to the cases if they were appointed as arbitrators. Mr Singh called on the young arbitration practitioners to partner with SIAC, and stated his willingness to meet these young practitioners to understand better the challenges that they faced in succeeding in the field of international arbitration and what SIAC could do to help them achieve their goals.

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Welcome Address by Davinder Singh, SC

Keynote Address by Gary Born

The Keynote Address for the Conference was delivered by Mr Gary Born (Chair, International Arbitration Practice Group, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP; President, SIAC Court of Arbitration). Mr Born provided two useful guiding principles for evaluating the various proposals to reform international arbitration, which he termed as the “do” and the “don’t”. In respect of the “do”, as arbitration is at the end of the day founded on parties’ consent, Mr Born said that a good innovation for arbitration should reflect parties’ consent and what parties want from arbitration. In respect of the “don’t”, Mr Born highlighted that in evaluating proposed innovations for arbitration, one should not simply attempt to emulate the national courts and the processes there. Whilst courts aim to provide a “one-size-fits-all” type of justice, arbitration is founded on parties’ consent, and provides justice tailored to the parties and to their particular dispute.

The Keynote Address was followed by lively and thought-provoking ‘’speed conferencing’’ sessions on hot topics in international arbitration. The 10 topics selected for the speed conferencing sessions showcased topical issues faced by arbitration practitioners in the course of their practice today, such as the impact of artificial intelligence on the practice of international arbitration, conflict of interest issues and confidentiality concerns in an era of greater transparency.

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Delegates during Speed Conferencing Sessions

Delegates during Speed Conferencing Sessions

The insights and conclusions drawn from the speed conferencing sessions were then summarised and presented by the moderators in two plenary sessions chaired by Mr Duncan Matthews QC (Barrister and Arbitrator, 20 Essex Street Chambers).

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Duncan Matthews QC

Left to Right: Rishab Gupta, Duncan Matthews QC and Suegene Ang

Turning the spotlight to the in-house counsel user, the final panel was a GC Panel titled “The General Counsel’s Perspective on the Future of International Arbitration”. The Panel comprised a stellar line-up of GCs, namely Mr Bhaskar Chandran (Group President, Legal, GMR Group), Mr Cameron Ford (Corporate Counsel, Rio Tinto), Ms Geraldine Lim (Regional Legal Director, Heineken Asia Pacific), and Ms Valerie Tan (Country Head Legal, ABN AMRO Bank N.V., Singapore Branch), and was moderated with great aplomb by Mr Chelva Rajah, SC (Managing Partner, Tan Rajah & Cheah; Member, SIAC Board of Directors). This interactive session provided delegates with an opportunity to engage in an interesting dialogue with the end users of arbitration on how they perceived and utilised the arbitration mechanism to meet their corporate goals, and how arbitration could be reformed to better serve the needs of corporate organisations.

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Left to Right: Bhaskar Chandran, Geraldine Lim,
Chelva Rajah, SC, Valerie Tan and Cameron Ford

Left to Right: Bhaskar Chandran, Cameron Ford,
Chelva Rajah, SC, Geraldine Lim and Valerie Tan

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Member of the audience during Q&A

Members of the audience

The highlight of the Conference was the feisty debate that followed, on the motion “This House Believes that Arbitrators become Better with Age”. Moderated by Mr Darius J. Khambata, SC (Member, SIAC Court of Arbitration), the speakers for the motion were Ms Foo Yuet Min (Director, Drew & Napier LLC; Member, YSIAC Committee) and Mr Toby Landau QC (Barrister and Arbitrator, Essex Court Chambers; Member, SIAC Court of Arbitration) and the speakers against the motion were Mr Emmanuel Gaillard (Head, International Arbitration Practice, Shearman & Sterling LLP; Member, SIAC Court of Arbitration) and Mr Jern-Fei Ng (Barrister, Essex Court Chambers; Member, YSIAC Committee).

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Left to Right: Foo Yuet Min, Toby Landau QC, Darius J. Khambata, SC, Emmanuel Gaillard and Jern-Fei Ng

Members of the audience voting during the debate

Ms Lim Seok Hui, CEO of SIAC, closed the Conference by thanking the speakers and sponsors, for contributing to the success of this flagship biennial YSIAC event. The day ended with Friday evening networking drinks for the delegates.

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Closing Remarks by Lim Seok Hui

Left to Right: Emmanuel Gaillard, Toby Landau QC, Foo Yuet Min,
Lim Seok Hui, Darius J. Khambata, SC, and Jern-Fei Ng

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Delegates during the Cocktail Evening

Delegates during the Cocktail Evening

Please look out in the upcoming July 2017 issue of the YSIAC Newsletter for more write-ups of the YSIAC Conference sessions.

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