SIAC Arbitration: An Overview
Arbitration is a method of resolving disputes between parties without resorting to litigation in courts. Arbitration is usually faster, cheaper, and more confidential than litigation. Arbitration also allows the parties to choose the arbitrators, the rules of procedure, and the applicable law.
One of the leading arbitration institutions in the world is the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). SIAC is a not-for-profit international arbitration organisation based in Singapore, which administers arbitrations under its own rules of arbitration and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Arbitration Rules12. SIAC was established on 1 July 1991 and is located at Maxwell Chambers, formerly the Customs House2.
SIAC has a reputation for providing high-quality, efficient, and impartial arbitration services. SIAC has handled over 6,000 cases from 147 countries and territories, involving parties from various sectors and industries1. SIAC has a panel of over 500 independent and experienced arbitrators from 46 jurisdictions, who are experts in various fields of law and practice1. SIAC also has a Court of Arbitration, which oversees the case administration and appointment of arbitrators, and a Secretariat, which handles the day-to-day operations of SIAC1.
Arbitration Clause for SIAC
To refer their disputes to SIAC for arbitration, the parties need to include an arbitration clause in their contract. An arbitration clause is a written agreement between the parties that they will submit any present or future disputes arising out of or in connection with their contract to arbitration, instead of litigation.
SIAC provides model arbitration clauses on its website for the parties to use or adapt. The model clauses vary depending on whether the parties wish to arbitrate under the SIAC Rules or the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, and whether they wish to specify the seat (legal place) of arbitration, the number of arbitrators, and the language of arbitration1.
For example, a simple arbitration clause for SIAC Rules arbitration could be:
Any dispute arising out of or in connection with this contract, including any question regarding its existence, validity or termination, shall be referred to and finally resolved by arbitration administered by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (“SIAC”) in accordance with the Arbitration Rules of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (“SIAC Rules”) for the time being in force, which rules are deemed to be incorporated by reference in this clause.
The seat of the arbitration shall be [Singapore].*
The Tribunal shall consist of [one or three] arbitrator(s).*
The language of the arbitration shall be [English].*
*The parties may agree on any seat, number of arbitrators, and language of arbitration. If they do not agree, these matters will be determined by SIAC or the Tribunal in accordance with the SIAC Rules.
Invocation of Arbitration under SIAC Arbitration
To commence an arbitration under SIAC, the party initiating the arbitration (the claimant) must submit a notice of arbitration to SIAC and to the other party (the respondent). The notice of arbitration must include:
- A request for arbitration;
- The names and contact details of the parties and their representatives;
- A reference to the arbitration clause or agreement;
- A brief description of the contract and the dispute;
- The relief or remedy sought;
- The preferred number of arbitrators (if not agreed by the parties);
- The preferred seat of arbitration (if not agreed by the parties);
- The preferred language of arbitration (if not agreed by the parties); and
- A copy of the contract containing the arbitration clause or agreement1.
The claimant must also pay a non-refundable filing fee to SIAC. The amount of the filing fee depends on whether the arbitration is under the SIAC Rules or the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules1.
The date on which SIAC receives both the notice of arbitration and the filing fee is deemed to be the date of commencement of the arbitration.
Appointment of Members of Tribunal
The number and method of appointment of arbitrators are determined by the parties’ agreement or by SIAC in accordance with the applicable rules.
Under the SIAC Rules, if the parties have agreed on a sole arbitrator, they may jointly nominate an arbitrator within 14 days from receipt of notice from SIAC. If they fail to do so, SIAC will appoint an arbitrator. If they have agreed on three arbitrators, each party may nominate one arbitrator within 14 days from receipt of notice from SIAC. The two party-nominated arbitrators will then nominate a third arbitrator within 14 days from their confirmation. If any party fails to nominate an arbitrator or if the two party-nominated arbitrators fail to nominate a third arbitrator, SIAC will appoint an arbitrator1.
Under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, if the parties have agreed on a sole arbitrator, they may jointly nominate an arbitrator within 30 days from receipt of notice from SIAC. If they fail to do so, SIAC will appoint an arbitrator. If they have agreed on three arbitrators, each party may nominate one arbitrator within 30 days from receipt of notice from SIAC. The two party-nominated arbitrators will then nominate a third arbitrator within 30 days from their confirmation. If any party fails to nominate an arbitrator or if the two party-nominated arbitrators fail to nominate a third arbitrator, SIAC will appoint an arbitrator1.
In both cases, SIAC will appoint an arbitrator from its panel of arbitrators, unless it considers that there are exceptional circumstances that require the appointment of an arbitrator from outside the panel. SIAC will also take into account the parties’ preferences, the nature and circumstances of the dispute, and the nationality, qualifications, and availability of the arbitrators1.
Rules of Procedure
- The rules of procedure for SIAC arbitration are mainly governed by the parties’ agreement or by the applicable rules. The parties may agree on any procedural matters that are not contrary to the applicable rules or mandatory law. The Tribunal has the power to conduct the arbitration in such manner as it considers appropriate, subject to the parties’ agreement and the applicable rules.
Some of the main procedural matters that are regulated by the SIAC Rules or the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules include:
- The exchange of statements of claim and defence, and any counterclaims and replies;
- The production of documents and other evidence;
- The appointment of experts and witnesses;
- The conduct of hearings and written submissions;
- The determination of issues of jurisdiction, admissibility, relevance, materiality, and weight of evidence;
- The application of interim or emergency measures;
- The calculation and allocation of costs; and
- The rendering of awards1 3.
The Tribunal may also adopt any additional rules or guidelines that it considers appropriate for the efficient and fair conduct of the arbitration, such as the SIAC Practice Notes or the International Bar Association Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration.
Conclusion about SIAC Arbitration
SIAC arbitration is a popular and effective method of resolving international commercial disputes. SIAC arbitration offers many advantages to the parties, such as flexibility, neutrality, expertise, efficiency, and finality. To refer their disputes to SIAC arbitration, the parties need to include an arbitration clause in their contract. To commence an arbitration under SIAC, the claimant needs to submit a notice of arbitration and pay a filing fee to SIAC. The appointment of arbitrators is done by the parties or by SIAC in accordance with the applicable rules. The rules of procedure for SIAC arbitration are mainly determined by the parties’ agreement or by the applicable rules. The Tribunal has wide discretion to conduct the arbitration in a manner that ensures a fair and expeditious resolution of the dispute.