In Asia, Singapore is doing much to establish itself as the next great hub of dispute resolution. The city-state is already the third most preferred seat of arbitration globally, behind London and Geneva. Additionally, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) is the world’s fourth most preferred arbitral institution. To that end, Singapore’s stock as a dispute resolution centre is rising. The city-state is a signatory to the New York Convention and, as such, SIAC awards have been enforced by a number of courts globally. Courts in countries including in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, the UK, the US and Vietnam, among others, have all held up SIAC rulings of late.

Singapore’s growth in this area has been built on significant contributions from legal services in recent years. Contributions into the region expanded by around 46 percent between 2007 and 2012, reaching $1.5bn or roughly double the level of contribution into local rival Hong Kong. With notable outside financial commitment and the support of the city-state’s government, Singapore has an excellent chance of maintaining its place as a significant centre for dispute resolution services, particularly on a regional level.

The liberalisation of the city-state’s legislative framework has also contributed to its increasing popularity. Over the course of the last decade, the government has undertaken a program of legal reform to address a system previously considered oppressive. These reforms have served to further enhance the city-state’s appeal. Singapore’s sound legal foundations have played a major role, fostering a strong reputation for innovation and an ability to cut through bureaucracy. 

Jan-Mar 2015 issue

Richard Summerfield