I am coming to the end of my second term as President of the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators. So much has happened in these four years. I will take this opportunity to take stock.
Some of you will remember that Intellitrain took over the running of our Secretariat at the end of 2013. It did a sterling job helping us to tidy up our internal records. Actual paid-up membership at that time was estimated to be about 665. We are now more than 900 members. I am fairly confident that we will hit the 1000 mark within a year. That will surely be a milestone to remember.
SIArb hosted the Regional Arbitral Institutes Forum (RAIF) Conference for the second time in August 2014, after the Conference had made its rounds to the homes of our fellow RAIF members. It was a tremendous success, attended by 120 lawyers from more than 10 countries.
In December 2014, SIArb signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Singapore Institute of Architects and in January 2016, with the Japan Association of Arbitrators. We are forging friendships with the aim of harmonizing good practices across sectors and borders.
In September 2016, we launched the upgraded and completely redesigned SIArb website, with new features offering convenient functionalities for members. The website now carries an integrated event calendar for SIArb and relevant third party events. Members can register and pay for events online. The integrated membership management system offers a one-stop location for membership matters, including a members' area where members can access members' only resources and update their personal profiles.
Those who have been following developments on Third Party Funding regulations will know that SIArb has launched its Guidelines for Third Party Funders on 18 May 2017. We have taken on board suggestions that SIArb should offer third party funders an opportunity to declare their support for the Guidelines. Those who do will be acknowledged on the SIArb website as being a supporter of the Guidelines. I am pleased that we already have six leading Third Party Funders on board.
A second product is on the way. A SIArb Working Group has completed its draft on the SIArb Guidelines on Party-Representative Ethics. The difficulty in harmonising this area is matched by the importance of doing so, for the integrity and success of the arbitral process. There will be public consultation on the draft before it is finalized. I thank my fellow Working Group members, Mr Mohan Pillay, Mr Rian Matthews and Ms Adriana Uson for their hard work on these guidelines.
On 6 September 2017, an appreciative audience followed with interest the observations of Ms Judith Gill QC on the topic "Arbitrator Conflicts of Interest: Are the Modern Safeguards Sufficient?" The seminar was chaired by Mr Dinesh Dhillon.
The complementary topics of Arbitrator's ethics and Party-Representative's ethics will be rounded-up in a seminar on 10 October 2017. Mr Gary Born will present his lecture on Arbitrator's ethics, after which he and the SIArb Working Group will discuss issues raised in the draft SIArb Guidelines on Party-Representative Ethics.
Before our Annual General Meeting starts on 28 September 2017, we will have a pre-AGM talk by Mr Alvin Yeo, SC with his retrospective review of Singapore Arbitration from Birth to Boomtown - The Past 25 Years.
Our flagship Fellowship Assessment Course will be conducted on 27, 28 and 30 October 2017. Non-legally trained candidates are required to attend Module 1 on 19 & 20 October 2017, which covers Contract, Tort and Evidence.
Please do attend our Annual Dinner on 1 November 2017. It will be repeated at the lovely Aura Restaurant, where we had it last year. We are excited to have as our Guest-of-Honour, the former Attorney-General of Singapore, Mr VK Rajah, SC. I can promise you will enjoy this special event.
Given the packed schedules of our members, one can never have too much advance notice. The ever popular SIArb Commercial Arbitration Symposium 2017 returns for its 8th year on 16 November 2017. As usual, the hallowed Old Parliament House will provide a distinguished setting for the lively debates.
Finally, the observant among you might have noticed that the SIArb logo now sports a slogan "Asian Sensibilities, Global Standards". This reflects a theme that I touched on at the SIArb Gala Dinner in 2016. SIArb has its roots in Asia and understands Asian cultural nuances and practices. However, we have a duty to promote the best practices globally and the highest standards in international arbitration. The SIArb Council agrees that this phrase captures the defining characteristic of SIArb as a leading Asian Arbitral Institute.
Our membership now spans the entire breadth of the globe, from US, Europe, Middle East to Asia. The diversity helps to enrich our understanding of the myriad of ways in which arbitration is practised. At the same time, it encourages us to abandon parochialism in favour of harmony. After all, one of our Objectives is the improvement of the standards of skill and expertise of arbitrators and those involved in ADR. Our collective knowledge and perspectives are a formidable asset as SIArb continues to be a focal point for thought leadership in arbitration in the coming years.
It has been a real privilege to be entrusted with the helm and a joy to serve with such congenial and diligent Council members. I am also grateful to members who turn up regularly at our events, whose words of encouragement provide such comfort to the Council. I will, of course, remain a part of the SIArb, but insofar as my last column as President is concerned, "So long, and thanks for all the fish."