The Singapore International Arbitration Centre continues to innovate with new features in its updated arbitration rules.
On 30 June, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) announced the release of the sixth edition of its arbitration rules (SIAC Rules 2016), which will take effect on 1 August 2016.
President of the SIAC Court of Arbitration Gary Born commented that the release of the new SIAC Rules 2016 is a bid to ensure that the SIAC continues to provide world-class, cost-competitive dispute resolution services and consolidate its position as the forum of choice for parties from diverse legal systems and cultures.
The SIAC Rules 2016 contain a number of new features as well as some refinements to existing provisions. We highlight the key changes below.
In an innovative move, the SIAC has introduced a procedure for early dismissal of claims or defences that are manifestly without merit or manifestly outside the jurisdiction of a tribunal. Such a procedure is welcome because it has the potential to provide parties that face hopeless claims or defences substantial time and cost savings. However, an application made pursuant to this procedure will likely be granted only in the clearest of cases to ensure that a respondent to the application has been given a reasonable opportunity to present its case and to avoid a subsequent award from being challenged. Conversely, to safeguard against unmeritorious applications, a tribunal retains the discretion whether or not to allow an application for early dismissal to proceed.
Parties may apply to consolidate arbitral proceedings that arise out of multiple contracts under a new streamlined process. The new rules also provide that both parties and nonparties may apply to be joined to arbitral proceedings.
The rules relating to emergency arbitration proceedings have been refined. An emergency arbitrator will now be appointed within one day (rather than one business day) after filing the application and paying the administration fees and deposits. An order or award of interim relief must now also be issued within 14 days of appointing the emergency arbitrator. The fees for an emergency arbitrator are now fixed at S$25,000 rather than by reference to the amount in issue.
The expedited procedure has been amended in a number of respects. The most significant for present purposes is a departure from the 2013 edition of the rules, which provided that an evidentiary hearing would take place unless the parties agreed otherwise. In the new rules, the tribunal may determine, in consultation with the parties, whether a case conducted under the expedited procedure should be decided on the basis of documentary evidence only. This change has the potential to bring significant cost savings in matters where the value in dispute is relatively modest.