Monday, June 11, 2012

Singapore to develop arbitration sector

SINGAPORE: Singapore's Law Minister K Shanmugam said Singapore will continue to develop the arbitration sector and be pro-arbitration. It will also move in line with industry needs.

He was speaking at the opening plenary session of the 21st Congress of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration on Monday.

Giving an update on the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), he said it handled 188 new cases last year. Of these, 135 were international cases fully administered in accordance with SIAC's rules.

By contrast, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre administered a total of 41 new cases in 2011, including domestic cases.

Mr Shanmugam said this year is already a better year.

In the first five months of 2012, the SIAC handled 118 new cases, double the number handled in the same period last year.

The total value of these cases were over S$2 billion. This exceeded the total value of cases handled by the SIAC for the whole of last year, which stood at S$1.3 billion.

Mr Shanmugam also told the international legal fraternity that the Centre of International Law and the National University of Singapore's law faculty will be setting up the Singapore International Arbitration Academy later this year, from November 26 to December 14.

It is the result of collaboration between leading arbitration practitioners and scholars from around the world.

The 16-day programme will be held at the Bukit Timah campus of the National University of Singapore.

The programme is targeted at private practitioners, in-house counsel and government officials who deal with international disputes and want to develop their arbitration knowledge and skills,

The academy will combine theory, skills training and lectures on key issues of arbitral law and practice, including state-to-state and investor-to-state arbitration.

The programme will have two tracks. A practicing counsel track will focus on the skills and issues relevant to counsel representing clients in an arbitral proceeding, while the government advisor/instructing solicitor track will cover issues such as selection, instruction and management of hired counsel.

The academy will only enroll 60 participants in its first year, 24 practice track counsel and 36 government advisors/instructing solicitors, to ensure effective participation and skills training.

Over 40 leading practitioners, arbitrators and public officials, including Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the president of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Mr Sundaresh Menon, Singapore's Attorney General and former Singapore Senior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Professor S Jayakumar, will share their expertise and insights during the training programme.

Mr Menon said: "The academy is the culmination of the collaboration between one of the world's most respected arbitration practitioners and academics, Mr Christopher Thomas QC, who will be joining the Centre for International Law (CIL) this year, key personnel from CIL and other key stakeholders including Professor Michael Pryles, Chairman of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.

"I was delighted to play a part in conceptualising the academy. In a region where arbitration is set to grow even more dramatically in the coming years, the academy fills a gap in the training and formation of practitioners by giving them an insight into real life issues they will encounter with an emphasis on practical learning from a cross-cultural perspective".

CIL's Director, Associate Professor Robert Beckman, said: "The academy brings together many of the world's leading dispute resolution professionals to Singapore to share their knowledge and experience in an intensive training programme with aspiring arbitrators and lawyers.

"The programme has been designed to deepen the participants' understanding of the substantive and practical aspects of complex international arbitrations. This is another part of CIL's drive to be a thought leader and capacity building hub on international law topics of importance to Asia."

Mr Shanmugam is confident that the academy will contribute to the development of expertise in international arbitration, in a region where the need for such expertise continues to grow.

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