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Singapore court rulings gain more weight

Decisions made by Singapore's courts may soon carry more weight worldwide due to a bill tabled in parliament.11 Apr 2016

When the Choice of Court Agreements Bill is passed, probably later this year, this will move Singapore closer to accession to the Hague Convention.

The Hague Convention is an international legal agreement between sovereign states on the mutual enforcement of legal decisions. It does so principally by allowing the recognition and enforcement of any foreign judgment given by, and the enforcement of any judicial settlement approved by or concluded before, a court of a Hague Convention state that is designated in an exclusive court agreement.

The Convention came into force on 1 October 2015 and 28 countries, including all members of the European Union except Denmark,  have acceded to it.

Singapore signed the Convention on 25 March 2015, and will activate its benefits once the government adopts it through the Court of Choice Agreements Bill.

Once adopted, the Convention will enhance the international enforceability of Singapore court judgments, including those of the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC). This will make the SICC a more attractive option as a neutral litigation venue, the Singapore Ministry of Law said.

Singapore-based Nicholas Brown of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com said: "Cross-border commercial litigation offers several key benefits that cross-border commercial arbitration cannot; and whereas the raison d'etre for arbitration is mutual international enforcement - something that international litigation has so far been unable to match - the Hague Convention offers a solution to that relative disadvantage."

"Singapore is joining a small yet growing community of states that are willing to subject the commercial decisions of their courts, and those of the other participating states, to mutual enforcement. In doing so, Singapore is showing international leadership, and one hopes that this will lead in time to wider acceptance of the Convention and thus a more comprehensive framework for mutual judicial enforcement in the commercial sphere," Brown said.