2017 has been a significant year for Arbitration in Singapore and for the SIArb. As the year comes to an end, it is a time not only to reflect and give thanks but also to recharge and prepare for 2018.

SIArb celebrated its 36th Anniversary with a memorable dinner at Aura, National Gallery on 1 November. The organisers of the dinner, led by Tan Weiyi and assisted by our secretariat, Intellitrain repeated the success of last year’s dinner at the same venue. We thank our Guest of Honour, Mr VK Rajah SC, for his insights on the important issue of ethics in International Arbitration which has given us much food for thought. We also just concluded an excellent Symposium on 16 November at the iconic Old Parliament House. Kudos to Tay Yu-Jin and his committee on a sterling job done.

2017 saw Singapore implement legislation to allow third party funding for international arbitration. SIArb introduced guidelines for third party funders after a public consultation. These guidelines are on our website and to-date, 6 established funders have publicly expressed their support and endorsement for these guidelines. I would like to thank my fellow working group members, Chan Leng Sun SC, Tay Yu-Jin and Sapna Jhangiani for their invaluable assistance on these guidelines.

Another SIArb Working Group comprising Chan Leng Sun SC, Mohan Pillay, Rian Mathews and Adriana Uson have recently completed draft guidelines on party representative ethics. Arbitration is ultimately but a process where the ultimate objective is justice. Ethics are integral to this end objective. These guidelines are presently in the public consultation phase. We welcome your views on the draft guidelines.

We have also been more active internationally. In March, Leng Sun delivered a talk to the Japan Association of Arbitrators on training of arbitrators and arbitration practices. Earlier in the year, a group of trainers led by Naresh Mahtani conducted training for delegates from the Institute of Modern Arbitration in Moscow. I also recently returned from the Regional Arbitral Institutes Forum in Hong Kong. Next year’s Forum will be held in Indonesia and we will disseminate more information in 2018 once available. I encourage members to attend the regional forum, as we will be stronger the more connected we are with the world around us.

In an article in the Straits Times on 6 October, the Advocate General of Scotland, Lord Richard Keen who is also Britain’s Ministry of Justice spokesman for the House of Lords said he viewed Singapore as among the “premier league” of litigation and arbitration centres worldwide, with a pool of outstanding lawyers and a respected judiciary. In an article published by the International Bar Association on 27 October, Singapore was described as the “new Mecca” for arbitration in Asia. The Permanent Court of Arbitration is to set up an office to manage hearings in held in Singapore and Asia, and the ICC Court has announced it will set up a case management office in Singapore in 2018.

Singapore’s success as an arbitration centre is built on the hard working shoulders of those who have come before us. SIArb which was founded in 1981 with just 25 founder members has certainly played its part. They had a vision for the promotion of arbitration and the improvement of standards. Today we have 932 members. I hope 2018 will be the year we go beyond 1,000.

Success however comes with its own challenges. Being in the premier league is not an entitlement. Ask any football fan – there is always fear of relegation. We have a duty to build upon the success that has been achieved. One of SIArb’s key roles has been in education and training. We will relook at our course offerings and materials and ensure that they are the best in class. As our Guest of Honour, Mr VK Rajah SC, quipped at our recent Annual Dinner, we should be aiming for the “Champions League”.

As an arbitral institute that is privileged to carry the “Singapore” name, we have a duty to do all we can to live up to the quality and integrity that has come to be associated with the Singapore identity. Many members of this Institute are not necessarily Singaporean but I am confident that you all feel connected to Singapore and identify with what it stands for. Our logo since this year comes with the tagline “Asian Sensibilities, Global Standards” – what does that mean? It means we are an institute that is based in Asia, knows Asia and is committed to the shared values and aspirations of our region. At the same time, we must aim for the “Champions League” in terms of global standards.

Finally, I am happy to introduce you the new Chairs of the various SIArb Committees;

Committees Chair(s)
Chair: Mr Andrew Pullen
Vice Chair: Ms Adrienne Kouwenhoven
Arbitration Bar Mr Tay Yu-Jin
Continual Professional Development (CPD)
Chair: Mr Francis Goh
Vice Chair: Mr Andrew Pullen
Education & Training Mr Naresh Mahtani
External Relations
Chair: Mr Chan Leng Sun           
Vice Chair: Mr Chia Ho Choon 
Membership Ms Tan Weiyi 
Panel Arbitrators Review Mr Chia Ho Choon  
Publications & Website Mr Yeo Boon Tat
Scheme Arbitration Mr Chia Chor Leong

I encourage all members to participate in the numerous projects and programmes of SIArb, whether as Committee members or on ad hoc basis.

I wish all of you the very best wishes for this holiday season and the very best for 2018.

Dinesh Dhillon
SIArb 2017-2019

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