At the opening of the legal year in January 2013, the Chief Justice of Singapore announced a committee to consider the feasibility of establishing a Singapore International Commercial Court (“SICC”). This committee, comprising judges, in-house counsel and practitioners from Singapore and other common law jurisdictions, recently released its recommendations on establishing the SICC (its report is available here).
It is suggested that the SICC, which will be governed by a bespoke set of rules tailored to international commercial litigation, will hear cases governed by both Singapore and foreign law, with the SICC’s panel of judges including eminent international judges. In relation to questions of foreign law, it is noteworthy that SICC judges will be able to take judicial notice of foreign law with the assistance of submissions. In other words, foreign law need not be pleaded and proved as fact. This is in line with the practice in international arbitration.
Also of particular interest is the proposal to allow foreign counsel to appear in proceedings where the case has no substantial connection to Singapore. This recommendation – if implemented – would represent a significant liberalisation of the current rules as it would allow foreign law firms in Singapore to provide litigation services to international clients for the first time.
The Singapore Government has stated that it welcomes the Committee’s recommendations, which aim to build on the success of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, by increasing the range of dispute resolution options in Singapore open to international parties. The Government has announced a consultation period on the committee’s report, with interested parties able to submit responses until 31 January 2014.
We will provide an update on further developments once the Government provides its response.