What is the Singapore International Commercial Court?

The Singapore International Commercial Court is a newly formed court which is designed to extend and build upon Singapore’s success as a venue for international arbitration. The Chief Justice of Singapore perceived a need for the international community to have a commercial court because international arbitration is sometimes not suitable for the resolution of a dispute. The Report of the Singapore International Commercial Court Committee was released on 29 November 2013 and this recommended the establishment of the Singapore International Commercial Court. Singapore has a sophisticated judiciary experienced in the resolution of commercial disputes and an increasingly sophisticated commercial jurisprudence.

International arbitration at the moment is the favoured choice for international dispute resolution because of its enforceability across so many jurisdictions under the New York Convention. However, there are times when it is not appropriate because of of issues which arise from over-formalisation and associated delay which results in rising costs,
concerns about the legitimacy of and ethical issues in arbitration,
the lack of consistency of decisions and absence of developed jurisprudence, the absence of appeals and the inability to join third parties to the arbitration. These concerns have led to the creation of the Singapore International Commercial Court.

The judgments of the Singapore International Commercial Court are enforceable in the same way as any judgment of a court in Singapore. As parties have normally consented to the jurisdiction of the court in their contract or by agreement after the dispute has arisen. As a judgment of a division of the High Court of Singapore, SICC judgments can be enforced by registration in countries and/or territories scheduled under:

(a) the Reciprocal Enforcement of Commonwealth Judgments Act, which covers the United Kingdom, Australia (the federal jurisdiction of Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Norfolk Island, and Northern Territory), New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Windward Islands, Pakistan, Brunei Darussalam, Papua New Guinea and India (except the State of Jammu and Kashmir); and

(b) the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, which covers Hong Kong.

Also, Singapore has signed the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements on 25 March 2015 (“the Convention”) which in the process of its implementation is designed to eventually allow the mutual enforcement of court judgments in the European Union, United States, Singapore and Mexico. However, it must be noted that this treaty is only in its initial stages of acceptance by the parties.

Overall, the Singapore International Commercial Court represents an interesting opportunity for access to a truly judicial dispute resolution mechanism that has far reaching jurisdictional power. If you have a dispute which you think might be suitable for this forum please do not hesitate to contact us.