Guide To Maritime Arbitration In Singapore.
Legal News & Analysis - Asia Pacific - Singapore - Dispute Resolution - Shipping Maritime & Aviation
14 November, 2019
Singapore – A Global Port City
“Singapore – A Dynamic Cosmopolitan City State with Excellent Infrastructure and Communications” - Singapore International Arbitration Centre, www.siac.org.sg
Founded as a British trading post in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles, Singapore is located in the midst of the Asian sea routes. Its enviable location has allowed Singapore to become one of the world’s busiest trading ports. Its port is one of the busiest in terms of its total shipping tonnage. Singapore’s port also transships a fifth of the world’s total shipping containers, half of the world’s annual supply of crude oil, and remains the world’s busiest transshipment port. A nation with a strong rule of law coupled with pro-business policies, Singapore has continually enjoyed economic growth since its independence in 1965.
Singapore is one of the choice maritime gateways to key Asian markets.
Singapore’s maritime conglomerate boasts more than 100 international shipping groups, leaders in shipbroking, ship finance, risk management, marine insurance, and ship supplies. International organizations such as the Baltic Exchange and the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) have established offices in Singapore. Such a superstructure has made Singapore a dominant global player in international trade and shipping, thus serving as an ideal hub for maritime law and arbitration.
Singapore’s Legal System
A former British Colony, Singapore naturally adopted the English Legal System. Over the years, Singapore has evolved and created its own legal system.
The current legal system is based on the local needs and demands. Singapore’s law is derived from the written constitution, legislation, subsidiary legislation and the common law. Singapore’s judicial system consists of three principal courts; The High Courts and the Court of Appeal (the apex court of the land) make up the Supreme Court.
The State Courts comprise of the District Court, Magistrate Court and other specialized courts and tribunals.
In recent years, Singapore’s government has encouraged the use of arbitration and mediation as alternative avenues of private dispute resolution. The promulgation of the International Arbitration Act Chapter 143A in 1994 was the first step in bringing alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to the center stage in Singapore, enhancing Singapore’s status as a legal hub. Following the adoption of the aforesaid legislation, courts have lent their support to the use of arbitration in Singapore by parties – both local and foreign. This pro-arbitration stance taken by the government and the courts has promoted the growth of commercial arbitration in Singapore. It is not only easy for parties to arbitrate in Singapore but also relatively convenient for parties to enforce foreign-obtained arbitration awards in Singapore.
Arbitration is defined as a judicial process concerned with the adjudication of rights of parties in a dispute.. It is the resolution of a commercial dispute between two parties who have agreed to refer their dispute to an independent, impartial individual or a tribunal of usually 3 arbitrators, privately appointed by the parties.. The findings by this individual or tribunal in respect of the dispute shall, by mutual agreement, be binding upon the parties.
Arbitration is fast growing to be the choice mode of dispute resolution by parties all over the world. There are many inherent benefits and advantages in arbitration (as opposed to litigation in the courts) that would appeal to commercial parties.⁴
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- Halsbury’s Laws of England, vol 2 (Butterworths, 4ᵗʰEd) at para 502.
- Leslie K.H. Chew, Introduction to the Law and Practice of Arbitration in Singapore (Singapore: LexisNexis, 2010).
- Guy Spooner, Amanda Moseley, “Why Arbitration? Why Singapore?” Law Gazette <http://v1.lawgazette.com.sg/2001-8/Aug01-focus3.htm>
- (accessed 1 February 2019).