Speech by Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam SC at SIAC Virtual Congress 2021
10 Sep 2021 Posted in [Speeches]
Mr Davinder Singh, SC, Chairman of SIAC,
Members of SIAC Board and Court,
Ladies and gentlemen,
- Good morning to all of you, or perhaps, good afternoon, good evening, depending on where you are.
- This Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) Virtual Congress 2021 coincides, as you heard from Mr Singh, with SIAC’s 30th anniversary this year. It’s been an exciting journey for SIAC and I would like to briefly touch on that journey.
SIAC’s Growth in the Last 30 Years
SIAC has come some way since its inception 30 years ago.
a. Caseload has gradually increased over the years, as you can see from this chart.
b. Its international ranking has improved steadily, if you refer to the Queen Mary University of London International Arbitration Survey.
c. The same survey also showed an increasing proportion of respondents choosing SIAC as one of their preferred arbitral institutions.
- These results are due to a number of factors.
First, Asia is booming. Law follows business: that’s the fundamental point. Asia is now the largest economic area in the world.
a. It contributes to 40% of global GDP. By 2040, Asia is expected to contribute to 50% of global GDP.
b. Second, FDI inflows in 2020 were also highest in this region. It received more than 50% of global FDI. FDI to developing countries in Asia increased by 4%, despite COVID-19.
- With increased economic activities, there will be and there has been an increased need for dispute resolution as well.
We have also made sure that we have a very supportive ecosystem for arbitration:
a. A trusted, respected legal system;
b. A judiciary that has taken a very supportive approach to arbitration, including being very careful about the situations in which it intervenes;
c. The Government has actively ensured that the legal framework, the laws, are pro-arbitration, open, neutral. We regularly review our arbitration laws, to make sure they remain relevant;
d. The quality infrastructure in Singapore: the excellent facilities at Maxwell Chambers. The Chambers is now ramping up digital infrastructure, to support virtual and hybrid hearings;
e. Beyond the physical infrastructure, the high-quality dispute resolution institutions: both SIAC and international institutions, and others. Lawyers from around the world are available in Singapore; international panel of arbitrators and dispute resolution experts, all are available.
SIAC itself has also kept pace to meet international users’ needs.
a. It was the first major international arbitral institution to offer mechanisms like the emergency arbitrator procedures in Asia, early dismissal procedures, and the arb-med-arb protocol together with the Singapore International Mediation Centre.
b. It has also been an active presence in key users’ home countries. It now has representative offices in Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), New York. SIAC has also been granted Permanent Arbitral Institution status in Russia.
- All this has been possible because of the leadership of the Board and the Court, past and present. I would like to thank all the eminent practitioners who have taken time to help us, with special appreciation to Mr Davinder Singh SC, who took over in 2016 as Chairman. He, as people know, is one of our very best legal minds, active both in courtroom litigation, and in arbitration. He has been deeply involved in managing SIAC, setting its strategic direction, despite his busy schedule. We couldn’t have asked for more in a Chairman. We are very grateful to him.
- We are also very grateful to Mr Gary Born, who has been SIAC’s Court President since 2015. He is one of the leading international arbitration experts in the world. He oversaw SIAC’s case administration rules and processes. We thank him for his extremely important and valuable contributions.
Next Phase of Development
- The past 30 years have been both challenging and exciting for SIAC. The next 30 years will perhaps be even more challenging, and we hope equally exciting.
SIAC will have to deal with some key questions:
a. Disputes are getting more complex, especially with COVID-19.
b. New areas of disputes: climate change, even outer space activities.
c. SIAC will face both more competition and increasing demands from users. New arbitral institutions are being set up every year. Just three weeks ago, the Chief Justice of India announced a proposed international arbitration centre in Hyderabad. Parties will have more choices.
d. There will be continued pressure on issues like time and cost.
SIAC Virtual Congress 2021
- I am confident that SIAC has the ability to meet these challenges successfully.
- The SIAC Congress has been a key platform, since it was launched in 2014, to bring legal practitioners together, share knowledge and best practices.
I looked at today’s programme – the panels later will be discussing:
a. Interactions between international arbitration and international commercial courts;
b. Investor-state arbitrations;
c. Shifting paradigms in international arbitration, in respect of arbitral tribunals, party-nominated arbitrators and diversity;
d. As well as time and costs of arbitral proceedings.
- These are important, and some are perennial topics. It is good that SIAC is looking at these seriously, to see if they can better support their users – businesses, counsel, arbitrators.
- I would like to end by thanking SIAC for being one of our partners for this year’s Singapore Convention Week.
- We hope to be able to see everyone next year, in Singapore, for the 2022 UNCITRAL Academy, and the Singapore Convention Week from 29 August to 2 September.
- I wish everyone a fruitful Congress. Thank you, SIAC, and all of you.
Last updated on 10 Sep 2021