Reed Smith Client Alerts

This article was originally published in Practical Law Arbitration. Reproduced with permission. This article is co-written by Reed Smith Pte Ltd and Resource law LLC who together form the Reed Smith Resource Law Alliance in Singapore. Reed Smith LLP is licensed to operate as a foreign law practice in Singapore under the name and style, Reed Smith Pte Ltd (hereafter collectively, “Reed Smith”). Where advice on Singapore law is required, we will refer the matter to and work with Reed Smith’s Formal Law Alliance partner in Singapore, Resource Law LLC, where necessary.

The Singapore Ministry of Law has announced that it will launch a public consultation on the reform of the Singapore International Arbitration Act (Ch. 143A) to allow parties to appeal arbitration awards in the Singapore courts on questions of law.

Authors: Kohe Hasan Justine Barthe-Dejean

* Kohe Hasan is a Partner in Reed Smith's Singapore office and a Director of Resource Law LLC. Justine Barthe-Dejean is an Associate in Reed Smith's Singapore office.

On 10 April 2019, the Singapore Ministry of Law announced that it will launch a public consultation on the reform of the Singapore International Arbitration Act (Ch. 143A) to allow parties to appeal arbitration awards in the Singapore courts on questions of law. This will be in addition to the existing grounds of challenge: lack of jurisdiction, procedural irregularity, fraud and public policy (see Written answer by Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, to Parliamentary Question on the International Arbitration Act).

This announcement is both interesting and unusual. The right to appeal awards on questions of law only exists in a handful of jurisdictions (for example, in England and Wales and Hong Kong) and parties usually exclude this option. Commercial parties often opt for arbitration to benefit from the finality of awards. They favour the confidentiality and speed that come with the ability to give up their appellate rights. However, increasingly, concerns have been voiced that the pervasiveness of arbitration, especially in the construction, insurance, shipping and commodities industries, hinders the healthy development of the common law.