Singapore Parliament moves to Assist Foreign Arbitrations

By Subramanian Pillai and Peter Low

A 2007 Report by the International Chamber of Commerce – International Court of Arbitration (ICC-ICA) ranked Singapore as the leading city in Asia for ICC Arbitrations and alongside Paris, London, Geneva and Zurich, as one of the most popular venues for ICC Arbitrations in the world. Singapore's evolution into the pre eminent arbitration venue in Asia received a further boost recently with the launch of Maxwell Chambers as an integrated one-stop arbitration centre providing world-class hearing facilities with state of the art services.

However, achieving excellence as a prime arbitration venue for international arbitrations may well not be enough. Singapore must also be seen as an active participant on the world stage in promoting the effective administration of international arbitrations, wherever these arbitrations are conducted. In recognition of this, the Singapore Parliament passed the International Arbitration Amendment Act (the "Amendment Act") in October 2009. The Amendment Act, which came into force on 1 January 2010, introduced new provisions to the International Arbitration Act ("IAA"). This article looks at Section 12A of the IAA which was introduced by way of the recent amendments to extend the Court's powers to grant interim relief to parties engaged in international arbitrations conducted outside Singapore.

The primary objective of Section 12A of the IAA was to rectify the discrepancy that existed in the earlier version of the IAA which was exposed in the wake of the rulings in Swift-Fortune Ltd v Magnifica Marine SA [2006] 2 SLR (R) 323, Front Carriers Ltd v Atlantic & Orient Shipping Corp [2006] 3 SLR 854 and the decision of the Singapore Court of Appeal in Swift-Fortune Ltd v Magnifica Marine SA [2007] 1 SLR 629.

Under the earlier version of the IAA, Section 12 (7) provided the Court with the same powers in an International Arbitration as the Court had in relation to a litigation action or matter before the Court. Section 12(1)(a) to (i) specifies the interim measures which the Court may grant in aid of arbitrations as follows:

The power to order that a party to the arbitration provide security for costs of the arbitration; The power to order a party to the arbitration to provide discovery of documents or answer interrogatories under oath; The power to order or direct that the evidence to be adduced at the arbitration be in the form of an affidavit; The power to order the preservation...

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