The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (“SIAC”) has released the sixth edition of its Arbitration Rules (“SIAC Rules 2016”), which will be effective on 1 August 2016.

The main amendments address issues of joinder of parties, allowing “summary” awards; enhance the emergency arbitration proceedings and the Expedited Procedure; and provide more flexibility to parties with regard to the seat of arbitration. A summary of the main changes are set forth below.

Consolidation in Multi-Contract Disputes

Rules 6 and 8 of the SIAC Rules 2016 will enable the claimant in a multi-contract dispute to:

  1. File a notice of arbitration in respect of each arbitration agreement, as well as submit an application for consolidation; or
  2. File a single notice of arbitration in respect of all arbitration agreements. This will serve as a notice of arbitration in respect of each arbitration agreement, as well as an application to consolidate all arbitrations.

Parties can also now submit an application to the tribunal or the SIAC Court of Arbitration to consolidate multiple arbitrations after they have commenced.

Joinder of Non-Parties

Rule 7 of the SIAC Rules 2016 will allow non-parties to apply to be joined in an arbitration.

Early Dismissal

Rule 29 of the SIAC Rules 2016 will allow parties to apply for “summary judgment” of the claim and/or defence in the arbitration.

Seat of Arbitration

Under the current SIAC Rules, Singapore is the default seat of arbitration. Rule 21 of the SIAC Rules 2016 will leave the determination of the seat of arbitration to the tribunal, unless parties agree otherwise. Singapore will remain the default seat of arbitration in emergency arbitrations, unless parties agree otherwise.

Unpaid Deposits

Rule 27 of the SIAC Rules 2016 will give tribunals the power to order or award reimbursements of unpaid deposits towards the costs of the arbitration.

Emergency Arbitration Proceedings

Rule 30 and Schedule 1 of the SIAC Rules 2016 will provide for an emergency arbitrator to be appointed within one (1) day of receipt of the application for emergency interim relief and the necessary payments and deposits, instead of one (1) business day. In addition, the order or award for interim relief must be issued within a maximum of 14 days from the appointment of the emergency arbitrator.

The schedule of fees of the SIAC Rules 2016 now fixes the fees for the emergency arbitrator at S$25,000, unless the Registrar determines otherwise.

Expedited Procedure

Rules 5 of the SIAC Rules 2016 has now expended the use of the expedited procedure to matters where the amount in dispute does not exceed S$6,000,000.

In addition, under the SIAC Rules 2016, the Tribunal may, in consultation with the parties, decide whether to conduct an arbitration under the expedited procedure solely on the basis of documentary evidence.

Finally, the SIAC Rules 2016 clarifies that in the event of a conflict between the terms of an arbitration agreement and the rules relating to the expedited procedure, the latter will apply.

Challenges to Arbitrators

Rule 15 of the SIAC Rules 2016 will provide that the Court of Arbitration of SIAC will issue reasoned decisions for challenges to arbitrators. The SIAC Rules 2016 schedule of fees has fixed the administrative fee for challenges to arbitrators at S$8,000.

What Do These Changes Mean?

The latest edition of the SIAC Rules makes arbitration under the SIAC more cost-effective and flexible. 

Parties can now save on the costs of multiple arbitration hearings through consolidation or application for early dismissal of claims and defences, as well as avoid waiting for arbitration to complete before obtaining an award on disputes or claims that lack merit.

With the ability to choose the seat of arbitration, parties can decide on a mutually agreed forum. This may simplify award enforcement if the seat of arbitration and jurisdiction are the same.

Further, the emergency arbitration procedure has been enhanced to allow parties to obtain an emergency award more quickly. 

Overall, the SIAC Rules 2016 address many of the complaints that parties have had with arbitrations, and make the process more attractive for parties choosing to arbitrate their disputes under the SIAC Rules.