Guide to Arbitration Rules and Procedures in Singapore

Our Country Chapters set out key aspects of the arbitration framework of each jurisdiction highlighted in our website, covering basics like judicial hierarchy and domestic arbitral institutions to substantive issues such as conflicts of laws and the extent of adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law. New topics will be added periodically, with recent additions such as responding to court proceedings in breach of the arbitration agreement, tribunal powers and jurisdictions, and more.

1. Legal System and Framework

Singapore’s legal system is based on the English common law system. Singapore has a mix of (a) judge-made law, which arises from precedents set by court judgments; (b) statutory law, which arises from legislations enacted by parliament; and (c) subsidiary legislation, which is made by ministers, government agencies and statutory boards. The Ministry of Law (“MinLaw“) oversees the policy for development, promotion, and regulation of Singapore’s legal system.

The Judiciary in Singapore comprises the Supreme Court and the State Courts.

The Supreme Court consists of the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

  • The High Court consists of the General Division of the High Court (“General Division“) and the Appellate Division of the High Court (“Appellate Division“), together with the Family Division and the Singapore International Commercial Court (“SICC“).
    • The General Division exercises original and appellate jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases. It also exercises revisionary jurisdiction over the State Courts in criminal cases.
    • The Appellate Division hears all civil appeals that are not allocated to the Court of Appeal under the Sixth Schedule of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (“Sixth Schedule“) and any civil appeal that is provided by any written law to lie to the Appellate Division. The Appellate Division has no criminal jurisdiction.
    • The Family Division hears first instance cases involving important questions of law or if it appears to the High Court or Family Courts that a case should be tried in the High Court.
    • The Singapore International Commercial Court (“SICC“) is a division of the High Court and part of the Supreme Court of Singapore. It is designed to deal with transnational commercial disputes, and generally has the jurisdiction to hear and try an action if: (a) the claim in the action is of an international and commercial nature; (b) the parties to the action have submitted to SICC’s jurisdiction pursuant to a written jurisdiction agreement; and (c) the parties to the action do not seek any relief in the form of a prerogative order.
    • The Court of Appeal hears all criminal appeals against decisions made by the General Division in the exercise of its original criminal jurisdiction, as well as prescribed categories of civil appeals (set out in the Sixth Schedule) and appeals to be made to the Court of Appeal under written law.

For international arbitration, an application made under the International Arbitration Act (“IAA”) may be heard by the High Court or, if the conditions are met, the SICC. If the arbitral tribunal rules on the issue of its jurisdiction as a preliminary question, or at any stage of the arbitral proceedings rules that it has no jurisdiction, a party may apply to the High Court to decide the matter. An appeal to the Court of Appeal on this issue is permitted with leave of the High Court; the decision of the High Court refusing to grant leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal is not appealable.

If a party seeks to set aside or enforce an arbitral award, it does not require leave to make an application to the Court. An appeal against the High Court’s decision arising from these applications does not require leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Under the IAA, a party may not appeal against an award.

The International Arbitration Act (Cap. 143A, Rev Ed 2002) (“IAA“) is the main source of law in Singapore for international arbitration.

Under section 3 of the IAA, the UNCITRAL Model Law, with the exception of Chapter VIII (Recognition and Enforcement of Awards), has the force of law in Singapore.

Under Singapore law, a distinction is drawn between international and domestic arbitration.

International arbitration is defined under section 5(2) of the IAA as an arbitration where:

  • at least one of the parties to an arbitration agreement, at the time of the conclusion of the agreement, has its place of business in any State other than Singapore; or
  • one of the following places is situated outside the State in which the parties have their places of business:
    • the place of arbitration if determined in, or pursuant to, the arbitration agreement,
    • any place where a substantial part of the obligations of the commercial relationship is to be performed or the place with which the subject-matter of the dispute is most closely connected; or
  • the parties have expressly agreed that the subject matter of the arbitration agreement relates to more than one country.

Domestic arbitration is governed by the Arbitration Act (Chapter 10) 2002 and applies to any arbitration where Part II of the IAA does not apply.

The courts in Singapore are empowered to support and assist arbitral proceedings. They have adopted a pro-arbitration policy and are inclined towards minimal curial intervention. Under the IAA, a party to an arbitration agreement may take out a subpoena to testify or a subpoena to produce documents. In addition, and only if or to the extent that the arbitral tribunal or institution has no power or is unable for the time being to act effectively (section 12A(7), IAA), the courts can assist by: (a) granting a freezing order; (b) granting an interim injunction or any other interim measure; (c) securing the amount in dispute; and (d) preserving and ordering the interim custody of any evidence (section 12A, 1AA).

The courts are likely to take a dim view of any party that makes frequent and unmeritorious court applications for the purpose of delaying proceedings or frustrating an agreement to arbitrate. In Prometheus Marine Pte Ltd v King Ann Rita [2017] SGCA 61, the Court of Appeal ordered personal costs against counsel for forwarding and maintaining various untenable positions on his client’s behalf in the context of an application to set aside an arbitral award.

The courts do not intervene to frustrate arbitration and will only intervene to grant interim relief to the extent that the arbitral tribunal is unable to grant relief.

2. Arbitral Institutions

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (“SIAC“) is the most significant and popular arbitral institution in Singapore. SIAC has an experienced international panel of over 400 expert arbitrators from over 40 jurisdictions, a multinational Secretariat of experienced lawyers, and the SIAC Rules which provide a state-of-the-art procedural framework for the efficient and enforceable resolution of international disputes.

Apart from SIAC, there is also the Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration. Additionally, the International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC“), the Permanent Court of Arbitration (“PCA“), and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (“IDCR“) have also opened offices in Singapore.

3. Confidentiality

Singapore common law recognises an implied duty of confidentiality in an arbitration. This duty of confidentiality is binding on the parties and the arbitrators. Additionally, the most recent changes to the International Arbitration Act (passed on 5 October 2020) explicitly recognise the powers of the arbitral tribunal and High Court to enforce confidentiality obligations between parties arising from three sources: (a) a written agreement between the parties, whether in the arbitration agreement or any other document; (b) any written law or rule of law including at common law; or (c) under the rules of arbitration (including institutional rules) agreed to or adopted by the parties.

If there are court proceedings which arise out of the arbitral proceedings (for e.g., setting aside or enforcement applications), a party can apply to seal the court documents in the matter and have the parties’ names redacted from any published judgment. However, this general rule of confidentiality has exceptions. In AZT and others v AZV [2012] 3 SLR 794, the Court held that in deciding whether to seal court documents, the principle of open justice had to be weighed against the need to preserve confidentiality in arbitration. In AAY and others v AAZ [2011] 2 SLR 528, the court held that where a judgment is of “major public interest”, the judgment should be published with the appropriate redactions made.

4. The Law of the Arbitration and Conflicts of Law

The basic approach of the UNCITRAL Model Law, and therefore the position adopted in Singapore, is that the law applicable to each arbitration will be the law of the place where that arbitration takes place, and the selection of a particular place (seat) of arbitration will ordinarily result in the arbitration being conducted in accordance with that jurisdiction’s legal framework (PT Garuda Indonesia v Birgen Air [2002] 1 SLR(R) 401).

There are three stages in determining the law applicable to the substance of the parties’ dispute. The first stage is to examine the contract itself to determine whether it states expressly what the governing law should be. In the absence of an express provision one moves to the second stage, which is to see whether the intention of the parties as to the governing law can be inferred from the circumstances. If this cannot be done, the third stage is to determine with which system of law the contract has its most close and real connection. That system would be taken, objectively, as the governing or proper law of the contract (Overseas Union Insurance Ltd v Turegum Insurance Co [2001] SGHC 147).

The laws permit an arbitral tribunal seated in Singapore to recognise that the law of another jurisdiction may be agreed by the parties to be the substantive law governing the parties’ obligations with respect to the subject matter of the dispute.

There are generally no mandatory rules of substantive law which would apply to the parties’ rights and obligations solely due to the arbitration being seated in Singapore.

Singapore law applies the “double actionability rule” (Rickshaw Investments Ltd v Nicolai Baron v Uexkull [2007] 1 SLR(R) 377) for a tort to be actionable in Singapore. This rule requires the tort to be actionable both under the law of the jurisdiction in which the tort was committed and under the substantive law of the lex fori. While there exists a flexibility exception – under which either requirement may be disapplied if injustice or unfairness would otherwise result – it should be stressed that this exception is not easily invoked.

To ascertain where the tort took place, the “substance test” is applied. This “looks at the events constituting the tort and asks where, in substance, the cause of action arose” (JIO Minerals FZC and others v Mineral Enterprises Ltd [2011] 1 SLR 391). 

Following the decision in BCY v BCZ [2017] 3 SLR 357, the courts will draw a distinction between (a) the proper law (i.e. the law governing the arbitration agreement), which regulates the substantive rights and duties of the parties to the contract from which the dispute has arisen, and (b) the procedural law (i.e. the law applicable to the arbitration), which governs the relationship between the parties and the arbitrator in the conduct of the arbitration.

The Singapore Foreign Limitation Periods Act 2012 provides that questions of limitation are substantive (as opposed to procedural) issues and therefore determined by reference to the law of the contract, not the law of the seat. Therefore, in a Singapore-seated arbitration concerning a dispute to be determined by a foreign law, any question arising as to limitation periods will be determined by application of the foreign law.

Where the substantive law governing the dispute is Singapore law, an action founded on contract or tort must be brought within six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued (section 6, Limitation Act).

Where the substantive law governing the dispute is not Singapore law, the limitation period stipulated by the applicable foreign law will apply (section 3, Foreign Limitation Periods Act 2012).

5. Arbitration Agreements

The only formal requirement is that the arbitration agreement must be in writing. An arbitration agreement is deemed to be in writing if its content is recorded in any form (section 2A, IAA).

The main substantive requirement is that the parties had a clear intention to arbitrate their dispute. While the Courts will generally strive to give effect to the parties’ intentions to arbitrate, it will not do so at all costs (BNA v BNB and Anor [2019] SGCA 84).

Electronic arbitration agreements are recognised if the information contained therein is accessible so as to be useable for subsequent reference (section 2A(5) of the IAA).

Whether an arbitration agreement has been incorporated by reference turns on ascertaining the parties’ objective intentions gleaned from their correspondence and conduct in light of the relevant background as disclosed by the evidence. The relevant background includes the industry in which the parties are in, the character of the document which contains the terms in question as well as the course of dealings between the parties (R1 International Pte Ltd v Lonstroff AG [2015] 1 SLR 521).

Any dispute that the parties have agreed to submit to arbitration under an arbitration agreement may be determined by arbitration, unless it is contrary to public policy to do so (section 11(1), IAA).

There is a presumption in English case law that arbitration agreements should be construed generously. This has been incorporated into Singapore law in Larsen Oil and Gas Pte Ltd v Petroprod Ltd [2011] 3 SLR 414 (“Larsen“). In practical terms, this means that all disputes between parties to an arbitration agreement are assumed to fall within the scope of that agreement, unless shown otherwise. However, where there are compelling reasons, commercial or otherwise, that may displace any assumed intention of the parties that claims of a particular kind are to fall within the scope of an arbitration clause, the court should be slow to conduct the exercise of contractual construction from that starting point.

Singapore law recognises the separability of arbitration agreements. An arbitration clause that forms part of a contract is treated as an agreement independent of the other terms of the contract. Therefore, a decision by the arbitral tribunal that a contract is null, and void does not in and of itself mean that the arbitration clause contained therein is invalid (Article 16, UNCITRAL Model Law).

6. Proceedings in Breach of the Arbitration Agreement

Yes. Parties to an arbitration agreement have contractually agreed to have any disputes resolved by arbitration. Further, apart from the positive agreement to arbitrate, the High Court in Hilton International Manage (Maldives) Pvt Ltd v Sun Travels & Tours Pvt Ltd [2018] SGHC 56 also considered that there is a negative obligation not to pursue claims in relation to disputes within the scope of that arbitration agreement in any other forum, such as court proceedings. 

For international arbitrations as defined in section 5(2) of the International Arbitration Act (“IAA“), and pursuant to section 6(1) of the IAA, the other party can apply to the Singapore courts for a stay of the court proceedings. Section 6(2) of the IAA further states that the court “is to make an order… staying the proceedings” insofar as it concerns matters within the scope of the arbitration agreement and upon such terms or conditions as it may think fit, unless it is satisfied that the arbitration agreement is either null and void, inoperative, or incapable of being performed.

For domestic arbitrations, the other party can apply to the Singapore courts for a stay of the court proceedings pursuant to section 6(1) of the Arbitration Act (“AA“). Section 6(2) of the AA states that the court ‘may’ make an order to stay the proceedings if it is satisfied that there is no sufficient reason why the matter should not be referred to arbitration in accordance with the arbitration agreement, and the applicant was and remains ready and willing to do all things necessary to the proper conduct of the arbitration.

A key difference in the stay procedure between the IAA and the AA is that a stay of court proceedings is mandatory under the IAA, whereas the court has the discretion to order a stay under the AA.

Yes. An anti-suit injunction may be granted where a party seeks to restrain foreign proceedings brought in breach of an arbitration agreement (distinct from seeking a stay of proceedings where Singapore legal proceedings are in breach of the arbitration agreement). Pursuant to section 12A(1)(b) of the IAA (read with section 12A(1)(i)), the Singapore court may grant an interim anti-suit injunction in support of arbitration proceedings. However, an interim anti-suit injunction is subject to section 12A(6) of the IAA, which provides that the court will not intervene if recourse to the arbitral tribunal (including an emergency arbitrator) is available.

In determining whether such an injunction should be granted, the Singapore courts will consider several factors (see BC Andaman Co Ltd v Xie Ning Yun [2017] 4 SLR 1232), namely:

(a)   whether the defendant is amenable to the jurisdiction of the Singapore court;

(b)   whether Singapore is the natural forum for resolution of the dispute between the parties;

(c)   whether the foreign proceedings would be vexatious or oppressive to the plaintiff if they are allowed to continue;

(d)   whether the anti-suit injunction would cause any injustice to the defendant by depriving the defendant of legitimate juridical advantages sought in the foreign proceedings; and

(e)   whether the institution of foreign proceedings was or would be in breach of any agreement between the parties.

These factors are not independent of each other, and should be looked at in totality.

In addition, in Sun Travels & Tours Pvt Ltd v Hilton International Manage (Maldives) Pvt Ltd [2019] 1 SLR 732, the Singapore courts have maintained that an anti-suit injunction would ordinarily be granted if foreign proceedings have been brought in breach of an arbitration agreement unless there are strong reasons not to. However, the injunction must be “sought promptly and before the foreign proceedings are far too advanced”.

Foreign-seated arbitrations

An interim anti-suit injunction may likewise be granted for foreign-seated arbitrations, pursuant to section 12A(1)(b) of the IAA (read with section 12A(1)(i)). Given this, it is arguable that the court may also grant a permanent anti-suit injunction, stemming from section 18(2) read with paragraph 14 of the First Schedule of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322). However, this does not appear to have been decided in any reported decision. Moreover, the High Court in R1 International Pte Ltd v Lonstroff AG [2014] 3 SLR 166 opined that, even if there is such a power, strong reasons might be needed for the Singapore courts to intervene with such relief in order to support a foreign-seated arbitration.

In any event, the Singapore courts may not have in personam jurisdiction over a foreign defendant to a foreign-seated arbitration. In such cases, the threshold requirement is that the Singapore courts must have in personam jurisdiction over the defendant either on the basis of the defendant’s submission to the court’s jurisdiction or service of the originating process on the defendant outside Singapore under the Singapore Rules of Court. 

Indemnity costs may be awarded if the breach of the arbitration agreement has caused the innocent party to incur costs for the purposes of defending the proceedings: Tjong Very Sumito v Antig Investments Pte Ltd [2009] 4 SLR(R) 732. In CCH v CDB [2020] 5 SLR 798, the Singapore High Court awarded indemnity costs to the plaintiffs, who had succeeded in their application for an anti-suit injunction as a remedy for breach of an arbitration clause.

Insofar as the proceedings commenced by the counterparty may amount to a repudiation of the arbitration agreement, it is also open to the innocent party to accept the repudiation and bring the arbitration agreement to an end: Marty Ltd v Hualon Corp (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (receiver and manager appointed) [2018] 2 SLR 1207.

7. Jurisdiction and Powers of the Arbitral Tribunal

Yes. Section 11(1) of the IAA provides that any dispute may be determined by arbitration unless it is contrary to public policy to do so. The Court of Appeal in Larsen Oil and Gas Pte Ltd v Petroprod Ltd [2011] 3 SLR 414 (“Larsen Oil“) held that matters arising from the operation of the statutory provisions of the insolvency regime are non-arbitrable, even if the parties expressly included them within the scope of the arbitration agreement. In the same case, the Court of Appeal also listed subject matters that have been recognised as non-arbitrable because of public policy considerations, such as citizenship or legitimacy of marriage, grants of statutory licenses, winding-up of companies, bankruptcies of debtors, and administration of estates. The approach taken in determining whether a dispute is ‘arbitrable’ is to inquire whether the dispute would be replete with public policy considerations that were too important to be settled by parties privately through the arbitral mechanism: Larsen Oil.

Section 12(5)(a) of the IAA provides that an arbitral tribunal may award any remedy or relief that could have been ordered by the General Division of the High Court if the dispute had been the subject of civil proceedings in the General Division of the High Court.

For domestic arbitrations, section 34 of the AA provides the same, albeit that this is expressly stated to be subject to any agreement by the parties with regard to the tribunal’s powers.

A Singapore-seated tribunal has wide powers with respect to the grant of interim relief. With respect to the granting of interim relief, section 12(1) of the IAA provides that a tribunal may make orders or give directions to any party to the arbitration for: security for costs; discovery of documents and interrogatories; giving of evidence by affidavit; the preservation, interim custody, or sale of any property which is or forms part of the subject-matter of the dispute; samples to be taken from any property which is or forms part of the subject-matter of the dispute; the preservation and interim custody of any evidence for the purposes of the proceedings; securing the amount in dispute; ensuring that any award which may be made in the arbitral proceedings is not rendered ineffectual by the dissipation of assets by a party; an interim injunction or any other interim measure; and enforcing any obligation of confidentiality.

That said, section 12(4) of the IAA qualifies the tribunal’s power to order a party to provide security for costs as referred to in section 12(1)(a), namely that such power shall not be exercised by reason only that the party is (a) an individual ordinarily resident outside Singapore; or (b) a corporation or an association incorporated or formed under the law of a country outside Singapore, or whose central management and control is exercised outside Singapore.

Section 28 of the AA provides for similar powers with respect to an arbitral tribunal in a Singapore-seated arbitration which is not an international arbitration as defined in section 5(2) of the IAA.

If the arbitration is seated in a foreign jurisdiction, it would depend on the relevant arbitration legislation in the seat of arbitration.

Pursuant to section 12(6) of the IAA / section 28(4) of the AA, all tribunal-ordered interim relief is enforceable with the leave of the High Court, in the same manner as if they were orders made by a court. An application to enforce the tribunal-ordered interim relief must be supported by an affidavit: (a) exhibiting a copy of the arbitration agreement and the original order or direction made by the tribunal sought to be enforced; and (b) stating the provisions in the IAA, AA or applicable rules adopted in the arbitration on which the applicant relies. If the order sought to be enforced is in the nature of an interim injunction, leave to enforce shall be granted only if the applicant undertakes to abide by any order the Court or the arbitral tribunal may make as to damages: Order 48, rule 5(2) of the Rules of Court.

For international arbitrations as defined in section 5(2) of the IAA, section 12A of the IAA confers on the General Division of the High Court the power to grant interim relief in certain circumstances, irrespective of whether the place of arbitration is in Singapore. However, section 12A(3) clarifies that the General Division of the High Court may refuse to make an order if the fact that the place of arbitration is outside (or likely to be outside) Singapore makes it inappropriate to make such order.

Section 12A(6) circumscribes the court’s powers by making it clear that “[i]n every case”, the General Division of the High Court shall make an order only if or to the extent that the arbitral tribunal, and/or any arbitral institution, has no power or is unable for the time being to act effectively.

Pursuant to section 12A(7), an order made by the General Division of the High Court under section 12A shall cease to have effect in whole or in part if the arbitral tribunal makes an order which expressly relates to the whole or part of the court order.

This is similar to the powers available to the General Division of the High Court per section 31 of the AA, which applies to an arbitral tribunal in a Singapore-seated arbitration which is not an international arbitration as defined in section 5(2) of the IAA.

Yes. In section 2(1) of the IAA (and section 2(1) of the AA), the definition of an “arbitral tribunal” expressly includes an emergency arbitrator appointed pursuant to the rules of arbitration agreed to or adopted by the parties including the rules of arbitration of an institution or organisation.

Yes, the doctrine of kompetenz-kompetenz is recognised in Singapore. Article 16 of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (“Model Law“), which encapsulates this doctrine, has been accorded the force of law in Singapore via section 3 of the IAA. The Singapore Court of Appeal in Tomolugen Holdings Ltd v Silica Investors Ltd [2016] 1 SLR 373 has also affirmed the applicability of this doctrine in Singapore. For domestic arbitrations, the competence of the arbitral tribunal to rule on its own jurisdiction is set out in section 21(1) of the AA.

Accordingly, a Singapore court will stay proceedings in favour of arbitration if there is, prima facie, an arbitration agreement and the dispute falls within its scope, permitting the tribunal to decide the question of its own jurisdiction in the first instance.

8. Appointment of Arbitrators, Challenge, and Liability

Parties are at liberty to agree on the constitution of the arbitral tribunal as well as the number of arbitrators on the tribunal. If the number of arbitrators has not been agreed by the parties, section 9 of the IAA provides that a single arbitrator shall be presumed. Section 9A of the IAA provides that in an arbitration with two parties and three arbitrators, the default method is that each party shall appoint one arbitrator, and the parties shall by agreement appoint the third arbitrator. Section 9B of the IAA provides for a default appointment in arbitration with three or more parties, i.e., multi-party arbitration proceedings.

Similar rules apply with respect to domestic arbitrations, per sections 12 and 13 of the AA.

Yes. Article 11(3) of the Model Law (which has force of law in Singapore via section 3 of the IAA) read with section 8 of the IAA provides as follows:

  • in an arbitration with three arbitrators, each party shall appoint one arbitrator, and the two appointed arbitrators shall appoint the third arbitrator. If a party fails to appoint the arbitrator within thirty days of receipt of a request to do so from the other party, or if the two arbitrators fail to agree on the third arbitrator within thirty days of their appointment, the appointment shall be made, upon request of a party, by the President of the SIAC Court of Arbitration.
  • in an arbitration with a sole arbitrator, if the parties are unable to agree on the arbitrator, the appointment shall be made upon request of a party by the President of the SIAC Court of Arbitration.

Similar rules apply with respect to domestic arbitrations, per section 13 of the AA.

Article 12(1) of the Model Law further requires a person approached to be appointed as an arbitrator to disclose any circumstances likely to give rise to justifiable doubts as to his/her impartiality or independence. The obligation is ongoing and the arbitrator shall disclose any such circumstances throughout the arbitration proceedings. Apart from these Model Law provisions, the IAA does not impose any requirements or restrictions on a party’s or the parties’ choice of arbitrator.

Similar rules apply with respect to domestic arbitrations, per section 14 of the AA.

Yes. If the parties’ agreed limitations are not given effect to, the award rendered may be liable to be set aside pursuant to Article 34(2)(a)(iv) of the Model Law (or section 48(1)(a)(v) of the AA), i.e., on the ground that the composition of the arbitral tribunal or the arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the agreement of the parties.

Pursuant to Article 12(2) of the Model Law, the arbitrator’s appointment may be challenged if circumstances exist that give rise to justifiable doubts as to his impartiality or independence, or if the arbitrator does not possess any requisite qualification on which the parties have agreed. Such circumstances include any pecuniary or proprietary interest in the outcome of the arbitration: PT Central Investindo v Franciscus Wongso [2014] 4 SLR 978.

Parties are free to agree on a procedure for challenging an arbitrator. In the absence of agreement, the following procedure in Article 13(2) of the Model Law applies:

  1. A party who intends to challenge an arbitrator shall, within 15 days after becoming aware of the constitution of the arbitral tribunal or after becoming aware of any circumstances referred to in Article 12(2), send a written statement of the reasons for challenging the arbitral tribunal.
  2. Unless the challenged arbitrator withdraws from his/her office, or the other party agrees to the challenge, the arbitral tribunal shall decide on the challenge.
  3. If the challenge is not successful, within 30 days after having received notice of the arbitral tribunal’s decision rejecting the challenge, the party making the challenge may request the court (in this case, the General Division of the High Court of Singapore) to decide on the challenge and which decision shall be subject to no appeal.
  4. While the request before the High Court is pending, the arbitral tribunal (which includes the challenged arbitrator) may continue the arbitral proceedings and make an award.

A similar procedure applies with respect to domestic arbitrations, per section 15 of the AA.

Section 25 of the IAA (and section 20 of the AA) provides that an arbitrator will be immune from liability for (a) negligence in respect of anything done or omitted to be done in the capacity of arbitrator; and (b) any mistake in law, fact or procedure made in the course of arbitral proceedings or in the making of an arbitral award.

9. Party Representation

No. In addition to Singapore solicitors, foreign lawyers who are not admitted to practise law in Singapore are also allowed to represent parties in arbitral proceedings. Section 35 of the Singapore Legal Profession Act expressly permits foreign lawyers to represent a party in Singapore arbitration proceedings, including those where the governing law of the contract is Singapore law.

There are no domestic laws that regulate foreign lawyers’ professional conduct in arbitration. Nonetheless, the IBA Guidelines on Party Representation in International Arbitration may be adopted if agreed upon by the parties. In addition, the Singapore Institute Arbitrators (“SIArb“) has published the SIArb Guidelines on Party-Representative Ethics, which provides some helpful guidelines on conduct for party representatives. While the Guidelines lack the force of law, it nevertheless provides useful guidance for professional conduct in arbitration. Moreover, it is not uncommon for arbitral tribunals to take into account the conduct of counsel and/or the parties when making a costs order. This is an indirect enforcement of appropriate conduct for counsel.

To the authors’ knowledge, the IBA Guidelines are not generally applied in domestic practice, nor have the SIArb Guidelines been generally applied.

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