On 4 November 2014, the following Bills were passed in Parliament to facilitate the establishment of the Singapore International Commercial Court (the “SICC”):

  • Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill 2014;
  • Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill 2014; and
  • Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill 2014,

(collectively referred to as the “Bills”).

The SICC will be an international court with specialist jurists hearing international commercial disputes as well as disputes governed by foreign law. It is intended to complement existing arbitration services and broaden the suite of dispute resolution options that are available to regional as well as international parties.

The SICC will be established as a division of the High Court which will enable its judgments to be enforceable as judgments of the Supreme Court of Singapore. Proceedings will generally take place in open court, but parties may apply for proceedings to be heard confidentially.

Local commercial cases will be primarily handled by local lawyers. Foreign lawyers will have to register to appear before the SICC and there are two types of registration:

  • Full registration which allows a foreign lawyer to appear and act in proceedings before the SICC and appeals from the SICC in certain cases to be prescribed in subsidiary legislation; and
  • Restricted registration which allows a foreign lawyer to appear and act solely for the purposes of making submissions on matters of foreign law in the specific case permitted by the court.

Foreign lawyers who are registered to appear before the SICC will be subject to the oversight of the Supreme Court. There will also be a framework for dealing with complaints on the professional conduct of lawyers registered with the SICC.

Decisions of the SICC may be appealed to the Court of Appeal, although parties will be allowed to contractually exclude or limit this right of appeal.

Background

The Bills were introduced in Parliament on 7 October 2014 following two prior public consultations conducted by the Ministry of Law (the “MinLaw”). The Allen & Gledhill Legal Bulletin has been tracking the developments of the Bills as follows:

  • Introduction of the Bills in Parliament on 7 October 2014. To read the article titled “Bills introduced in Parliament to establish the Singapore International Commercial Court”, please click here (October 2014).
  • Public consultation on draft versions of the Bills from 8 to 30 April 2014. To read the article titled “Ministry of Law consults on draft Bills to develop framework for the establishment of the Singapore International Commercial Court”, please click here (April 2014).
  • Public consultation from 3 December 2013 to 31 January 2014 on the Report of the Singapore International Commercial Court Committee (the “SICC Committee”) which recommended the establishment of the SICC. To read the article titled “Ministry of Law conducts public consultation on the Report of the Singapore International Commercial Court Committee”, please click here(December 2013).

Allen & Gledhill Partners Ang Cheng Hock, SC and Chong Yee Leong were members of the SICC Committee.

Reference materials

The following materials are available from the Singapore Parliament website www.parliament.gov.sg and the MinLaw website www.mlaw.gov.sg:

Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill 2014

Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill 2014

Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill 2014

Second Reading Speech - Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill 2014

Second Reading Speech - Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill 2014

Second Reading Speech - Legal Profession Bill 2014