In the recent case of Insigma v Alstom, the Singaporean Courts upheld an arbitration agreement providing for disputes to be "resolved by arbitration before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre in accordance with the Rules of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce".

Alstom initially commenced an ICC arbitration. Insigma disputed the ICC's jurisdiction, arguing that the arbitration agreement required disputes to be resolved by arbitration before SIAC conducted in accordance with the ICC Rules. Alstom subsequently withdrew the ICC arbitration and started a SIAC arbitration. Both parties nominated arbitrators and the two party nominated arbitrators in turn nominated the Chairman of the Tribunal, with all three nominations confirmed by SIAC.

Insigma applied to the tribunal challenging its jurisdiction. Before rendering its decision, the tribunal asked SIAC if it would be prepared to administer the arbitration in accordance with the ICC Rules and, if it was, which bodies within the SIAC would fulfil the roles assumed by the various ICC bodies. SIAC confirmed that it was and that the roles performed by the ICC Secretariat, the ICC Secretary General and the ICC Court would be assumed by the SIAC Secretariat, the SIAC Registrar and the SIAC Board of Directors respectively.

The tribunal held that the arbitration agreement provided for SIAC to administer the arbitration and for the arbitration to be conducted pursuant to the ICC Rules, and that the arbitration agreement was valid, enforceable and capable of being performed. It also rejected Insigma's contention that the tribunal was constituted pursuant to the SIAC Rules rather than the ICC Rules, noting that only the confirmation of the tribunal was made with reference to the SIAC Rules and that this had no practical impact on the constitution of the tribunal.

The Singaporean Court similarly rejected Insigma's challenge to the validity of the arbitration agreement and the constitution of the tribunal. In doing so, it rejected Insigma's arguments that the arbitration agreement was a "disastrous compromise" or was inoperable because the ICC Rules have many unique features which cannot be implemented by any institution other than the ICC. The Court noted that the parties undoubtedly intended to resolve disputes by arbitration and that there is no objection in principle to parties agreeing that one institution should administer an arbitration conducted in accordance with another's rules. It stressed, however, that great care must be taken to avoid an inconsistency between the rules and the institution which could render the arbitration agreement inoperative (and noted, by way of example, that an arbitration clause which provided for ICC administered arbitration pursuant to the UNCITRAL Rules would be of doubtful efficacy). Moreover, the Court held that Insigma could not in good faith dispute the jurisdiction of the tribunal, given that it had been constituted in accordance with the proposal Insigma put forward in its answer in the initial ICC arbitration.

Despite the result in this case, we would ordinarily advise against parties mixing different institutions and rules in their arbitration clauses. There is no guarantee that the approach adopted by the Singaporean Courts would be adopted elsewhere and such clauses often lead to expensive and time consuming multiple proceedings (as occurred in this case). (Insigma Technology Co. Ltd v Alstom Technology Ltd, [2008] SGHC 134)