20 March 2018


In each issue of our newsletter, we interview an SIArb member to get their views on the alternative dispute resolution scene in Singapore,  and to obtain some insight into what makes them tick.

In this issue, we interview Mr. Jayems Dhingra,  Chartered Arbitrator

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Independent, Impartial, Neutral.

What is your favourite dish?
Mamak Mee Goreng

How did you first get involved in arbitration work?
About 25 years ago as a Claimant’s representative, I went through the bitter experience of a mismanaged arbitration matter. After wasting 16 to 18 months trying to match the diaries of the counsels and the arbitrator, I took over the case from the counsel and the matter was resolved amicably between the Parties within half a day, with the outcome as per the Claimant’s preferred solution.

This episode caused me to learn more about ADR processes and do my best for the benefit of the industry to remove impediments caused by ignorance of the parties about the ADR processes.

What is the most memorable arbitration or arbitration-related matter that you were involved in, and why?
It was about a dispute arising from an Offshore Oil & Gas Pipe Laying project, involving multiple parties in the background.

The complexity of the dispute was caused by the simplicity of the defined scope of works which were subjected to weather patterns, supply chain members and diversity of nationalities and languages of the operational personnel.

It was memorable for me that due to my industrial experiences in the construction, offshore and marine industries, I was able to understand the witnesses easily. The parties and their witnesses felt at ease during the oral hearings sessions. There was a wide spectrum of activities undertaken at different locations, shipyards, ashore and at sea. It was not an easy task to decide the issues and write an award, which made me spend more than 60 days and nights to analyse the whole scenario, before publishing an award. This is what made this matter memorable for me.

As an arbitrator, what in your view are the key qualities or traits an arbitration counsel should possess when representing a party?
I have been fortunate to meet cooperative and professional counsels thus far, except for couple of instances. The good quality of the counsels makes the arbitrator’s task easier and is beneficial to their clients irrespective of the outcome. I have no doubt that my learned colleagues know much better than an arbitrator, the qualities and traits essential as a counsel representing a party in an arbitration matter. However since this question is posed to me, I will answer from my view point based on my personal experiences and observations that, I would love to have counsels with following qualities and traits (PRACTICE) as a minimum, though I am always ready and willing to learn more from different types of counsels.

  • Punctuality - adhere to the agreed time lines;
  • Respectful – do not hurl insults on the counsels of the opposing parties in front of the tribunal and the party representatives, even if there are some personal grudges or scores to settle; • Active – be actively engaged in the subject matter and not treat the case like one of the many litigation cases pending on the table;
  • Cost-Conscious – always endeavour to minimize the cost and time to be incurred by the clients and avoid unwarranted procedural challenges to cause delays;
  • Tactful – should not create jurisdictional or tribunal appointment challenges, unless absolutely essential and with more than 90% confidence that it will be sustainable;
  • Initiative – should show initiative to prioritize the main issues and resolve secondary issues by consultation between the counsels and the parties;
  • Cooperative – it is good to agree on usual procedural matters without a need for a tribunal to decide. The cooperation is normally beneficial to the parties and reflects high quality of professionalism of the counsels; and 
  • Efficient – finally be efficient in submissions and pleadings. It doesn’t help in delivering a container load of boxes full of files and papers on an arbitrator. Better to be focussed than take chances on voluminous submissions.

What are the challenges you think arbitration practitioners will face in the upcoming years? 

With varieties of tools and options at the disposal of the parties, practitioners will be spoiled for choices. Third Party Funding, choice of ADR forums, institutions and service providers with branches for borderless access, are some of the new challenges which could surface during enforcement of arbitral awards in several jurisdictions in the future.

There is a danger that the parties and or their advisors may lose focus of the issues in dispute and be carried away in capitalising on procedural advantages, to cause harassment to their opponents.

What advice do you have for a young fellow practitioner interested in developing a career as an arbitrator?  
First and foremost one should not treat being an arbitrator as another career, unlike a barrister or a solicitor or a professional from any industry.

One should have the passion to resolve disputes between international commercial entities with an underlying objective of creating confidence in arbitration as the just and fair dispute resolution forum, irrespective of nationalities, personalities and communities, thereby supporting the growth in trade and global economy.

The professionals from legal sectors and various industries can develop a passion for building One World Order through neutral dispute resolution forums. The combination of passion, expertise in their respective fields, and knowledge of the laws and practice of arbitration are some of the basic ingredients for becoming an arbitrator.

What do you think will be the impact of the One Belt One Road Initiative on arbitration? Do you expect a major increase in disputes arising out of OBOR projects?
The detailed answer to this question may be found in my latest paper titled as, “Can Seamless Flow of Trade And Sustainability of OBOR Economies be Fathomed Without Harmonization of Trade Laws And Adoption of UN Model Laws?” presented during UNCITRAL Conference held on 11 December 2017 at Macau, organized by UNCITRAL and University of Macau.

The brief answer is that, before the questions of disputes between the parties involved in OBOR projects arise, it is essential to focus on harmonizing the laws between the participating economies. This is causing great pressure and immense workload on international law firms and law making bodies of the respective OBOR nations.

The volume of disputes will depend on the quality of the legislations and treaties drafted by the authorities, and contracts between the parties, in the coming years.

What is one talent that not many people know you have? 
Adaptability and ability of comprehension (based on the diversity of my experiences over the last 42 years).

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Sea-water? Watching Korean Drama every night before sleeping.

Who would play you in a movie of your life? 
Lee Jung Jin

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