The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has opened its second representative office in India in the International Financial Services Centre (GIFT IFSC) in GIFT, Gujarat, to assist in the promotion of international commercial arbitration

Pursuant to Prime Minister Modi’s push to grow India as an international arbitration hub and the push for institutional arbitration in India (see here and here), the opening of the SIAC’s second representative office is a welcome development in the Indian arbitration landscape.

This development is in accordance with the Memorandum of Agreement entered into last year by the SIAC, the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Company Limited and GIFT SEZ Limited. Overall, the opening of the new office highlights the importance of the Indian market to the SIAC, with Indian parties consistently ranking amongst its top five foreign users in the last several years.

The new office will play a similar role to the SIAC Mumbai office (established in 2013) i.e. promoting the SIAC as a leading international arbitration institution and the use of institutional arbitration in general. Arbitrations under the SIAC Rules will continue to be administered in Singapore. It is understood that as a part of the arrangement, GIFT companies will begin incorporating SIAC clauses as their preferred method of dispute resolution in international contracts that are of a certain monetary value.

While this is only a representative office, and not a case management office, it is hoped that easy access to SIAC’s neutral and independent dispute resolution services will support GIFT’s drive to encourage parties to undertake large international financial transactions from GIFT IFSC, allowing the city to develop into a global financial hub along the lines of London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York.

Arbitration continues to grow throughout India, and recent judicial pronouncements are viewed as being pro-arbitration. For a round-up of recent developments, please see our recent e-bulletin here. Further, a panel constituted to review the existing Indian arbitration mechanisms has suggested reforms which includes a recommendation that foreign lawyers be allowed to advise and appear in arbitrations in India. However, this reform is being heavily opposed by the Bar Council of India. We will watch this space to see how this develops.