The preponderance of charterparties and sale and purchase agreements for commodities provide for arbitration as the method of dispute resolution. Because of this, a large number of disputes that we advised on are resolved via arbitration.
Singapore Arbitration Lawyers
As Singapore arbitration lawyers, we have acted in a number of international arbitrations seated in Singapore, Hong Kong and London, both administered as well as ad-hoc arbitrations. These include arbitrations governed by the SIAC, SCMA, HKIAC, LMAA and UNCITRAL Rules.
On top of acting as counsel in international arbitrations, our Joseph Tan also receives appointments as arbitrator and is a panel on the SCMA panel of arbitrators, as well as the SIAC reserve panel of arbitrators.
Our Joseph Tan is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He regularly accepts appointment as arbitrator and is on the SCMA panel of arbitrators as well as the SIAC reserve panel of arbitrators. He is also a supporting member of the LMAA.
Apart from being appointed as a sole arbitrator in several arbitrations, our Joseph Tan has presided over several arbitrations as chairman of the tribunal in tribunals of three arbitrators, and have written several awards in recent years. The types of appointments include arbitrations administered by the SIAC and the HKIAC, as well as appointments from the SCMA. Our Joseph Tan also regularly accepts appointment from the parties in ad hoc arbitrations governed by the SCMA, LMAA and UNCITRAL rules. The main bulk of these appointments are shipping arbitrations or international trade arbitrations.
Shipping and international trade disputes are commonly resolved via arbitrations. Our team has acted in a number of shipping arbitrations and international trade arbitrations that are seated in Singapore, Hong Kong and London. We have recently acted in an international arbitration that is seated in Seoul as well.
Although we are Singapore arbitration lawyers, quite often, we represent our clients in cases where the governing law of the dispute is not Singapore law. Where necessary, we work closely with our network of foreign lawyers if advice on foreign law is required.
A related aspect of our international arbitration practice is the invocation of the Court’s supervisory jurisdiction over international arbitrations by granting of interim measures and injunctions in support of arbitrations. In some cases, it may be necessary for parties to apply to Court for injunctive reliefs even though the dispute is subject to arbitration. One of the cases that our Joseph Tan and Joanna Poh were involved in where an application was made to the Singapore High Court was Five Ocean Corp v. Cingler Ship Pte Ltd  1 SLR 1159.
As Singapore arbitration lawyers, our experience in handling international arbitrations in various jurisdictions gives us an edge, as very often we are up against the large international law firms.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions from our clients.
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Arbitration is a form of private dispute resolution mechanism. The parties agree in advance on the mechanism for selection of an arbitrator, or a tribunal of three arbitrators. The parties are also able to agree on the procedures to be applied. A hallmark of arbitration is that it is confidential. Litigation on the other hand, the dispute is brought before the national courts. The parties cannot select which judge they want to hear their case and both sides are bound by the applicable rules of court. Save in exceptional cases, a trial in court is public in nature.
There are pros and cons for both arbitration and litigation and it all depends on which method of dispute resolution is more suitable for you. For disputes that involves more technical issues, for example, defects in design in shipbuilding contracts, the parties can choose an arbitrator with an engineering or naval architect background, whereas parties are unable to choose which judge they want to hear the matter in court.
For parties who are from different countries, if their countries are signatories to the New York Convention, arbitration awards issued in one country may be more readily enforced in the other country compared with a court judgment. In a number of countries, there is no appeal against an arbitration award. This gives parties the advantage of finality as opposed to having to face one or more rounds of appeal in the courts. For relatively straightforward disputes, the parties can opt to have the dispute determined by documents only without any evidentiary hearings. This reduces the parties’ exposure to legal cost.
A foreign arbitration award may be enforced in Singapore by filing an application to the Court for leave to enforce the award. Within 14 days from the making of the order (if the debtor is in Singapore), the debtor may apply to set aside the order. If no applications are made to set aside the order within the time stipulated, the arbitration award may be enforced in the same manner as though it is a judgment of the Singapore court.
The number of arbitrators forming the tribunal depends on what is agreed between the parties. It is possible for the parties to agree on a sole arbitrator or a tribunal of three arbitrators. Section 9 of the International Arbitration Act (Cap 143A) provides that the default position if the number of arbitrators is not stated is that of a sole arbitrator.
There are no specific legal requirements before a person can be appointed as an arbitrator. An arbitrator does not have to be legally-trained. It is however in the parties’ best interests to appoint an arbitrator who is well versed in the subject matter of the arbitration, and who is familiar with the applicable legal principles so as to achieve a fair and legally correct result. For example, if an arbitrator is not familiar with the rules of natural justice and the award was made in breach of the rules of natural justice, the award may be set aside by the Court on application.
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