27 Jul 2009 Posted in Press releases
The Ministry of Law is proposing amendments to the International Arbitration Act (IAA), which provides the legislative framework for Singapore’s international arbitration regime. These refinements to the IAA, proposed after a consultation with experienced arbitrators and arbitration counsel within the industry, will further enhance the legislative infrastructure for Singapore’s international arbitration regime.
The IAA is based on the UNCITRAL 1 Model Law of 1985, which reflects established practices worldwide on key aspects of international arbitration. The Ministry of Law has reviewed the 2006 amendments to the 1985 Model Law in consultation with arbitration industry experts.
The amendments are in three key areas:
- Our courts will be empowered to grant interim orders in aid of arbitrations held outside of Singapore. Interim orders include provision for the discovery of documents during the course of the proceedings as well as orders to freeze assets of parties. This move is in line with legislation in other countries such as the UK and New Zealand.
- The current definition of an arbitration agreement will be modernised to make it clear that Singapore recognises that an arbitration agreement can be contained in "electronic communications" such as electronic emails or electronic data exchange.
- The Minister for Law will be empowered to designate entities to authenticate, on a non-mandatory basis, "made in Singapore" arbitration awards. This facilitates the enforcement of such awards in countries which are party to the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention2).
- The refinements strengthen the already well-respected framework for arbitration in Singapore. A 2007 report published by the International Chamber of Commerce - International Court of Arbitration (ICC-ICA) ranked Singapore as the top city in Asia for ICC arbitrations and one of the five most popular ICC arbitration venues alongside Paris, London, Geneva and Zurich. Law firms and arbitrators have reported a growth in arbitration work even in the current economic downturn. A tax incentive for growth in arbitration work is in place for such firms. This month, the renovation of Maxwell Chambers, a conservation building, into a top-class arbitration hearing facility, was also completed. Aside from hearing facilities, Maxwell Chambers will also house world-class arbitral institutes such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution Singapore (a collaboration between the American Arbitration Association and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre / SIAC), the ICC-ICA and SIAC.
- The Ministry invites interested parties to provide their feedback on the draft International Arbitration (Amendment) Bill. The consultation period is from 27 July 2009 to 17 August 2009. The feedback may be sent in electronic or hard copy form to:
Legal Policy Division
Ministry of Law
100 High Street
#08-02, The Treasury
Fax: 6332 8842
 United Nations Commission on International Trade Laws. This is a UN organisation which works with UN members to modernise and harmonise international trade laws.
 The New York Convention 1958 generally requires courts of one contracting State to recognise and enforce arbitral awards made in other States. This Convention is widely recognised as the foundation for the growth of international arbitration as a transnational commercial dispute resolution tool. The Convention entered into force on 7 June 1959. 144 countries have acceded to the Convention, including Singapore, China, India, Japan, the US, France and UK.
Backgrounder on Arbitration (0.03MB)
Public consultation paper (0.03MB)
Draft Bill (0.04MB)
Responses to feedback received from public consultation on IAA Bill
Second Reading Speech on IAA Bill
Last updated on 26 Feb 2013