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SIAC rewrites model arbitration clause

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has reworded its model arbitration clause to bring it in line with the equivalent clause for contracts with Chinese parties, and to encourage parties to choose their own seat of arbitration.08 Sep 2015

The clause now says that "the seat of the arbitration shall be [Singapore]", allowing parties to replace Singapore with an alternative site, SIAC said in a statement.

The sample clause given in SIAC's statement also says that any dispute "shall be referred to and finally resolved by arbitration administered by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in accordance with the Arbitration Rules of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC Rules)".

The changes reflect SIAC's growing international caseload, it said. It gives flexibility in the seat of arbitration while also adding certainty by stating that SIAC will be the institution that manages the disputes, it said.

The SIAC expedited procedure model clause has also been updated, to match the new model clause, SIAC said.

Singapore-based arbitration expert Chen Han Toh of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said: "These revisions are helpful because they underscore parties’ right to depart from the clause’s default seat of arbitration, in Singapore, and to agree on a different seat of their choice. This is affirmation of party autonomy; a hallmark of arbitration".

"The revisions also make it clear that arbitrations pursuant to the model clause are administered by the SIAC. This accords with the fact that the clause imports the SIAC rules, which are designed for SIAC-administered arbitrations – a point not always apparent to parties," Toh said.

SIAC president Gary Born said: "The revised SIAC model clause is another step in SIAC’s continuing efforts to ensure that it is at the cutting-edge of international arbitration developments, providing services responsive to the needs of businesses and states around the world. The clause leaves users free to choose arbitral seats in any jurisdiction suitable for their needs, whether in Singapore or elsewhere".

SIAC said last month that it will release new arbitration rules for 2016. Changes will include new provisions on emergency arbitration, faster procedures and new rules on investment arbitration, it said.