Institution profile: SIAC (Singapore)

Summary of findings

  • Number of arbitrations filed per year has steadily increased with an accelerated growth since 2016. The total amount in dispute shows an unusually high peak in 2016.
  • The growth in number can be attributed to the increase in international arbitrations being arbitrated in Singapore, as the number of domestic arbitrations remains steady in comparison.
  • India dominates as the main country of origin of parties (20.3%) followed by China (11.6%) and the USA (8.1%). 16.6% of parties are from Europe while 35% are from the Asia Pacific region (excluding China).
  • Commercial disputes have dominated (29%). Construction / engineering (19%) and trade claims (17%) occupy second and third place, respectively.

The highest amount in dispute in a single case was $3.47 billion in 2016.

Snapshot of SIAC as an arbitral institution

By Michelle Chiam Xiu, Singapore International Arbitration Centre

In 2016, 80% of new cases filed with SIAC were international in nature, whilst in 2017 83% of new cases filed with SIAC were international in nature. This means that the percentage of foreign / international users of SIAC has increased. We expect this trend to continue as SIAC becomes more internationalised. In 2017, SIAC’s top ten foreign user rankings saw new entrants from Europe and the Middle East, underscoring SIAC’s increasing global appeal to users from diverse legal system and cultures. SIAC is also stepping up our marketing efforts outside of Asia to reach a wider pool of users who seek independent, neutral and efficient arbitration services.

Certain sectors such as the construction or shipping industries have historically gravitated towards certain arbitral institutions specified in their industry or company’s standard contract templates. However, with the rise of SIAC and other reputable arbitral institutions, this is slowly changing. More than two-thirds of the contracts that resulted in SIAC arbitrations were entered into within the last 4 years

The reputation of the arbitral institution and quality of the case administration are some of the key reasons why particular arbitral institutions are chosen over others. Parties are attracted by SIAC’s independence and neutrality. In this respect, SIAC has benefitted from being based in Singapore. SIAC is where it is today because of Singapore’s reputation for integrity and the rule of law, its status as a trusted and sophisticated hub and the Singapore Courts’ support for and active contribution to the development of the law and practice of international arbitration.

Parties are also attracted by SIAC’s international outlook and international caseload even as we are based in Asia:

  • Over 80% of our cases are international with users from 58 jurisdictions selecting SIAC arbitration in 2017;
  • The SIAC Court of Arbitration is comprised of 22 eminent arbitration practitioners from around the world, including Australia, Belgium, China, France, India, Japan, Korea, Singapore, UK and the USA.
  • The SIAC Panel of Arbitrators consist of over 400 expert arbitrators from over 40 jurisdictions.
  • The multinational lawyers in the Secretariat are qualified in civil and common law jurisdictions with fluency in languages other than English (including Chinese and Bahasa Indonesia)

Further, SIAC has focused on enhancing users’ overall arbitration experience by ensuring speed, costs, efficiency, and a personal level of service. These core values remain at the heart of SIAC’s case administration philosophy. That and the active oversight by and participation of the Court of Arbitration and the Board of Directors of SIAC have made for the highest levels of accountability, quality and professionalism at SIAC.

Parties are also attracted by the time and cost-competitiveness of SIAC’s case administration services. In a survey done by the Society of International Law (Singapore), titled “Costs and Duration: A Comparison of the HKIAC, LCIA, SCC and SIAC Studies”, the authors concluded that “SIAC remains the most cost-competitive option for both sole-arbitrator and three-arbitrator cases” and that “for three-arbitrator cases in particular, SIAC remains significantly cheaper than LCIA and SCC where the costs extend to six-digit figures”. According to the article, SIAC arbitrations are also “the most efficient in comparison to the other arbitral institutions”, as the median duration of an SIAC arbitration is the shortest at 11.7 months

To keep pace with and anticipate the evolving needs of its users, SIAC is also constantly seeking to improve its rules, procedures and offerings. In 2010, SIAC was the first among Asian-based institutions to introduce the Emergency Arbitrator mechanism. In 2016, SIAC was the first major commercial arbitral institution to introduce a procedure for the early dismissal of claims and defences. SIAC keeps its ears to the ground, learning from public consultation exercises and communications with the industry, always seeking to identify users’ needs.

For these reasons, SIAC was ranked 3rd out of the top 5 arbitral institutions in the world in the 2018 Queen Mary University of London and White & Case International Arbitration Survey, making SIAC the most popular arbitration institution based in Asia.