The Singapore International Arbitration Centre has recently introduced significant changes to its rules, reflecting a major organisational and governance change with the introduction of a new SIAC Court of Arbitration. The SIAC has also introduced updated rules for the conduct of arbitration.

New SIAC Court of Arbitration

The new SIAC Rules came into effect on 1 April 2013 and establish a new SIAC Court of Arbitration which will oversee the arbitral appointment and case administration functions of the SIAC. The Court is led by its president, Dr Michael Pryles, and is made up of  leading international arbitration practitioners. The corporate and business development functions of the Centre will continue to be overseen by the board of directors. The arbitration functions carried out by the SIAC Court have been separated from the corporate and business development functions - a major structural change made largely in response to the SIAC’s rapidly growing caseload.

The new Rules give effect to the new governance structure by providing that the SIAC Court president will take over arbitral functions formerly performed by the chairman of the SIAC. The president will now appoint arbitrators (Rule 6) and determine applications for expedited procedure (Rule 5) and for appointment of emergency arbitrators (Schedule 1). The SIAC Court will also take over the role of the SIAC board’s committee in determining challenges to arbitrators (Rule 13) and jurisdictional challenges (Rule 25.1).

New SIAC procedural rules

The SIAC has also introduced other new rules on arbitration procedure:

Recognition of investment treaty cases (Rule 3.1(d)): The new Rules extend SIAC's jurisdiction to cover disputes arising under an investment treaty or other instrument conferring jurisdiction upon SIAC. This reflects a push by the SIAC to promote itself not only as a commercial arbitration centre but also as a centre for the arbitration of investment treaty arbitrations.

Commencement of arbitration (Rule 3.3): The SIAC Registrar is now empowered to decide on whether a Notice of Arbitration is complete and therefore when an arbitration has commenced even when various procedural requirements relating to matters that must be set out in a Notice of Arbitration have not been met. This allows the Registrar flexibility to facilitate the commencement of arbitration which may be important for claimants facing the impending expiry of a limitation period.

Advance on costs (Rule 30.2): The SIAC Registrar may fix separate advances on costs for claims and counterclaims respectively.

Tribunal's power to decide on issues not pleaded (Rule 24(n)): The Tribunal can now decide, where appropriate, any issue expressly or impliedly raised in the parties' submissions, provided that the issue has been clearly brought to the notice of the other party and there has been adequate opportunity to respond. The introduction of this rule gives effect to the recent Singapore Court of Appeal decision in PT Prima International Development v. Kempinski Hotels SA [2012] SGCA 35, in which the court held that a tribunal can have regard to issues in dispute which arise in the course of proceedings but which were not formally "pleaded" in pleadings.

Tribunal's power to award post-award interest (Rule 28.7): The new Rules allow the tribunal to award interest in respect of any period it deems appropriate, which would include post-award interest. This amendment, which corresponds to a similar amendment in 2012 to section 20 of Singapore's International Arbitration Act, addresses the previous lacuna in Singapore law, which did not expressly allow a Singapore-seated tribunal to award interest after the date of the award.

Publication of redacted award: TheSIAC now has the discretion to publish awards with the names of the parties and other identifying information redacted (Rule 28.10). The SIAC recently published the first volume of redacted awards – information that was well received by the arbitration community for its addition to Singapore arbitration jurisprudence. The introduction of this new Rule will facilitate the SIAC's ability to continue publishing redacted awards.

Waiver of Right to appeal against decisions of the president, court and registrar: Under the new Rule 36.1, the decisions of the president, the court and the registrar are now conclusive and binding upon the parties and the tribunal, and the parties agree to waive any right of appeal or review in respect of such decisions to any state court or other judicial authority.