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The award

Requirements
What legal requirements are there for recognition of an award? Must reasons be given for the award? Does the award need to be reviewed by any other body?

The legal requirements which must be satisfied in order for an award to be valid in Singapore are as follows:

  • The award must be in writing and signed:
    • in the case of a single arbitrator, by the arbitrator; or
    • in the case of two or more arbitrators, by all arbitrators or the majority of the arbitrators, provided that the reason for any omitted signature is stated.
  • The award must state the reasons on which it is based, unless the parties have agreed that no grounds are to be stated or the award is based on agreed terms.
  • The date of the award and place of arbitration must be stated in the award.

The award need not be reviewed by any other body, unless this is required by the rules of the relevant arbitral institution governing the arbitration, if any. 

Timeframe for delivery
Are there any time limits on delivery of the award?

The Arbitration Act and the International Arbitration Act stipulate no time limits for delivery of the award. However, in an institutional arbitration, this may be provided for in the rules of the relevant arbitral institution.

Remedies
Does the law impose limits on the available remedies? Are some remedies not enforceable by the court?

The Arbitration Act provides that, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the tribunal may award any remedy or relief that could have been ordered by the Singapore court had the dispute been subject to civil proceedings in the courts. Similarly, under the International Arbitration Act, if Singapore law is chosen as the governing law, the tribunal may award any remedy or relief that could have been ordered by the Singapore court had the dispute been subject to civil proceedings in that court. The UNCITRAL Model Law also provides that, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, a tribunal may award any remedy or relief that is permitted under the relevant rules of law chosen by the parties. However, there may be enforcement issues if the remedy ordered by the tribunal offends public policy.

What interim measures are available? Will local courts issue interim measures pending constitution of the tribunal?

A party may seek various interim measures from the local courts under the Arbitration Act and the International Arbitration Act pending establishment of the arbitral tribunal.

Under the Arbitration Act, the courts have the power to make orders for:

  • security for costs;
  • discovery of documents and interrogatories;
  • giving of evidence by affidavit;
  • examination of a party or witness under oath or affirmation, and administration of any necessary oath or taking of any necessary affirmation for that purpose;
  • preservation and interim custody of any evidence for the purposes of the proceedings;
  • samples to be taken from, the observation of or experiments to be conducted on any property which is or forms part of the subject matter of the dispute;
  • preservation, interim custody or sale of any property which is or forms part of the subject matter of the dispute;
  • securing of the amount in dispute;
  • measures that ensure that any award which may be made in the arbitral proceedings is not rendered ineffectual by the dissipation of assets by a party; and
  • an interim injunction or any other interim measure.

Under the International Arbitration Act, the local courts also have the power to issue these orders, except for orders for security for costs and the discovery of documents and interviews.

However, any interim measures ordered by the local courts cease to have effect once the arbitral tribunal has been constituted and makes an order relating to the whole or part of the court order.

Interest
Can interest be awarded?

A tribunal may award interest (on either a simple or compound basis) on the whole or any part of any sum which: 

  • is awarded to any party for any period up to the date of the award;
  • is at issue in the arbitration proceedings, but paid before the date of the award; or
  • constitutes costs for any period up to the date of the payment.

At what rate?

The tribunal can award interest at the rate that it considers appropriate. Unless an award states otherwise, it will incur interest from the date of the award and at the same rate as the interest rate for court judgments in Singapore (presently 5.33% a year).

Finality
Is the award final and binding?

Yes, the Arbitration Act and the International Arbitration Act expressly provide that an award is final and binding.

What if there are any mistakes?

The Arbitration Act and the International Arbitration Act allow an arbitral tribunal to correct errors in computation, clerical or typographical errors or errors of a similar nature in the award. This may be done on:

  • the request of a party, which must be submitted within 30 days of the date of the award (unless parties have agreed on a different timeframe); or
  • the initiative of the tribunal, within 30 days of the date of the award.

If a party submits a request and the tribunal considers the request to be reasonable, it must make the request within 30 days of receipt of the request.

Can the parties exclude by agreement any right of appeal or other recourse that the law of your jurisdiction may provide?

Under the Arbitration Act (but not the International Arbitration Act), a party may file an appeal with the local courts regarding a question of law which arises out of an award. However, this right of appeal may be excluded by the parties.

In addition, both the Arbitration Act and the International Arbitration Act provide that a party may apply to set aside an award. The issue of whether parties may contractually exclude the right to set aside an award has not been decided in Singapore.

Appeal
What is the procedure for challenging awards?

The Arbitration Act allows a party to make an application to the local courts to determine a question of law which arises out of an award. However, that party must first exhaust:

  • any available arbitral process of appeal or review;
  • any available recourse regarding the correction or interpretation of the award; and
  • any available recourse regarding the rendering of an additional award. In this regard, the Arbitration Act provides that after the award has been rendered, a party may request that the tribunal give an interpretation on a specific point or part of the award.

An appeal may be brought only with the agreement of all parties to the proceedings, or with the leave of the court. Leave to appeal will be given only if the court is satisfied that:

  • determination of the question will substantially affect the rights of one or more parties;
  • the question is one which the arbitral tribunal was asked to determine;
  • on the basis of the findings of fact in the award:
    • the decision of the arbitral tribunal on the question was obviously wrong; or
    • the question is one of general public importance and the decision of the arbitral tribunal is open to serious doubt; and
  • despite the agreement of the parties to resolve the matter by arbitration, it is just and proper in all circumstances for the court to determine the question.

After hearing the appeal, the court may:

  • confirm the award;
  • vary the award;
  • remit the award to the arbitral tribunal, in whole or in part, for reconsideration in light of the court’s determination; or
  • set aside the award in whole or in part.

As for the procedure for setting aside an award, the application to the local courts must be filed within three months from the date that the parties received the award or, if the award has been corrected by the tribunal, within three months of the date of the correction being made.

On what grounds can parties appeal an award?

Under the Arbitration Act (but not the International Arbitration Act), a party may file an appeal with the local courts regarding a question of law which arises out of an award. However, this right of appeal may be excluded by the parties.

In addition, both the Arbitration Act and the International Arbitration Act provide that a party may apply to set aside an award. The issue of whether parties may contractually exclude the right to set aside an award has not been decided in Singapore.

The Arbitration Act and the International Arbitration Act provide that an award can be set aside if one of the following exclusive grounds applies:

  • A party to the arbitration agreement was incapacitated.
  • The arbitration agreement is invalid under the law to which it is subject or failing any indication thereon, under the laws of Singapore.
  • The party making the application was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or of the arbitral proceedings, or was otherwise unable to present its case.
  • The award deals with a dispute not contemplated by or not falling within the terms of the submission to arbitration, or contains decisions on matters beyond the scope of the submission to arbitration, except where decisions on matters submitted to arbitration can be separated from those not so submitted, in which case only that part of the award which contains decisions on matters not submitted to arbitration may be set aside.
  • The composition of the arbitral tribunal or the arbitral procedure did not accord with the agreement of the parties or, in the absence of such agreement, was contrary to the Arbitration Act or the International Arbitration Act (as the case may be).
  • The making of the award was induced or affected by fraud or corruption.
  • A breach of the rules of natural justice occurred in connection with the making of the award, by which the rights of any party have been prejudiced.
  • The subject matter of the dispute is incapable of settlement by arbitration.
  • The award is contrary to public policy.

Enforcement
What steps can be taken to enforce the award if there is a failure to comply?

A party can apply to the Singapore court for leave to enforce the award as a judgment of the Singapore High Court. In this connection, both the arbitration agreement and the duly authenticated award must be submitted. Assuming that the award is not set aside and the judgment debtor does not resist enforcement, the successful party can take various steps to enforce the award in Singapore after leave has been obtained from the court. Such steps may include filing garnishee proceedings and obtaining a writ of seizure and sale in respect of the award debtor’s assets in Singapore. 

Can awards be enforced in local courts?

Yes. A party can apply to the Singapore court for leave to enforce the award as a judgment of the Singapore High Court. In this connection, both the arbitration agreement and the duly authenticated award must be submitted. Assuming that the award is not set aside and the judgment debtor does not resist enforcement, the successful party can take various steps to enforce the award in Singapore after leave has been obtained from the court. Such steps may include filing garnishee proceedings and obtaining a writ of seizure and sale in respect of the award debtor’s assets in Singapore.

How enforceable is the award internationally?

This depends on the laws of the foreign jurisdiction in which enforcement is sought. However, as Singapore is a signatory to the New York Convention, the award should be enforceable in countries which are a party to the convention. 

To what extent might a state or state entity successfully raise a defence of state or sovereign immunity at the enforcement stage?

The State Immunity Act (Cap 313) provides that the property of a state shall not be subject to any process for the enforcement of an arbitration award or in an action in rem for its arrest, detention or sale. However, an exception applies where the property concerned is being used or intended for use for commercial purposes. In addition, a state may have also waived its right to raise state immunity by prior written consent. 

Are there any other bases on which an award may be challenged, and if so, by what?

No.

How enforceable are foreign arbitral awards in your jurisdiction?

The Singapore courts are pro-enforcement and a foreign arbitral award will be refused enforcement only on limited grounds set out in the New York Convention, as follows:

  • The parties to the arbitration agreement were incapacitated or the agreement is invalid.
  • The award debtor was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or of the arbitral proceedings, or was otherwise unable to present its case.
  • The award deals with a dispute not falling within the terms of the submission to arbitration, or contains decisions on matters beyond the scope of the submission to arbitration.
  • The composition of the arbitral tribunal or the arbitral procedure did not accord with the agreement of the parties or, in the absence of such agreement, was contrary to the Arbitration Act or the International Arbitration Act.
  • The award has not yet become binding on the parties or has been set aside or suspended by the relevant authority of the country which was the seat of arbitration.
  • The subject matter of the dispute is incapable of settlement by arbitration under the law of Singapore.
  • The award is contrary to public policy.

Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?

The local courts may not enforce an award that has been set aside at the seat of arbitration. 

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