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Singapore Law Ministry Publishes Proposed Amendments To The International Arbitration Act
8 March 2012

The Ministry of Law published the proposed changes to the International Arbitration Act today.
 


The first reading of the IA(A) Bill 2012  took place in Parliament today, following a Public Consultation process that took place in October 2011.


Proposed amendments include:

i. Relaxing the current requirement in the IAA that the arbitration agreement must be in writing;

  • The feedback in the consultation process , concluded that the proposed Bill should extend the IAA's application to arbitration agreements concluded by any means, as long as their content is recorded in any form.  The Commercial reality of Arbitration practice is that , arbitration agreements are often concluded orally, and put into writing later.

ii.  Allowing the Singapore courts to review rulings by arbitral tribunals that these tribunals do not have jurisdiction to hear the dispute (negative jurisdictional rulings);

  • The IAA currently does not permit a Singapore court to review negative jurisdictional rulings made by arbitral tribunals or rulings by the tribunals that it has no jurisdiction to hear the dispute though, Singapore courts are able to review positive jurisdictional rulings made by arbitral tribunals, or rulings by tribunals that they have jurisdiction to hear the dispute. The inconsistent treatment of negative and positive jurisdictional rulings received heavy criticism in the Consultation Process

iii. Defining the scope of the arbitral tribunals’ powers to award interest in arbitral proceedings;

  • The IAA currently does not clearly define the scope of arbitral tribunals' powers to award interest. The Bill proposed changes to clarify the scope of these powers, such as granting simple or compound interest on monies claimed in arbitrations and orders to pay legal costs.

iv.  According emergency arbitrators with the same legal status and powers as that of any other arbitral tribunal, to ensure that orders made by such emergency arbitrators (whether appointed under the SIAC rules or the rules of any other arbitral institution, in both foreign and local arbitrations) are enforceable under the IAA regime;

  • The Bill proposes amending the definitions of an "arbitral tribunal" and an "arbitral award" to clarify the status of orders made by such "emergency arbitrators". It aims  to accord emergency arbitrators with the same legal status and powers as that of any other arbitral tribunal and ensure that orders made by such emergency arbitrators are enforceable under Singapore IAA regime.


For full details on the proposed amendments, please click here.

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