CD: Could you provide a brief overview of the corporate dispute landscape in South East Asia? To what extent are disputes increasing across the region?

Hayler: As the economies in South East Asia have grown, so too has the complexity and size of the business transactions in the region. A consequence of this is that the disputes are larger and more complex, resulting in greater demand for dispute resolution mechanisms. The nature of the disputes is also consistent with young, fast growing economies; in particular we see a lot of minority oppression cases in Singapore, breach of contract in Indonesia and joint venture disputes from India. The number and size of disputes is also increasing. The nature of the disputes is largely unchanged, though there has been an increase in energy related disputes following the decline in energy prices.

Fong: International commercial disputes in the region are largely referred to arbitration. A recent study by the Singapore Academy of Law confirmed that there was a strong preference for arbitration in disputes clauses for cross-border transactions in the region. Singapore was confirmed as the preferred venue for international arbitration, and Singapore law the second most popular choice of law after English law. The increasing caseload at the SIAC over the years reflects this. Local disputes in Singapore are still commonly resolved in the courts. This is also the case in Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. Litigants also attempt mediation upon recommendation by their counsel and the courts. While the take-up rate of mediation is high, settlement is often arrived at a later juncture after the mounting pressures and costs of litigation or arbitration. Singapore’s SICC, which may boost international commercial litigation, has issued its first judgments.

Oct-Dec 2016 issue

Addleshaw Goddard LLP

FTI Consulting

Gilt Chambers

Harry Elias Partnership LLP