30 March 2020
Covid-19 is a global health crisis like never before. The airports and travel industry are at a standstill. Hospitals are being overrun or at risk of being overrun. Hotels in Singapore are now being used to house returning Singaporean residents on 14 day stay home notice periods. While there is no doubt we must put health first, we must also find ways to continue.
International Arbitration has been disrupted globally. Travel restrictions and quarantine notices have made it impossible globally for witnesses to give evidence in person. Technology though gives us a means to pick up the pieces and keep going. We are being forced to quickly learn what digital platforms exist for hearings. And we are learning quickly that there are indeed innovations that make virtual hearings possible.
Physical hearings whenever possible remain an option, but we must adapt to social distancing in hearing facilities, and to instill a discipline to resist our natural urge to shake hands. Dedicated hearing facilities will have to adapt to provide seating with 1 metre gaps between individuals. We may have to reduce the number of counsel physically present and consider providing transcription or video links for other team members to follow proceedings remotely.
One opportunity amidst the present chaos is that we may learn to be more efficient with technology and time management. SIArb will be reviewing the possibility of delivering CPD events and courses through digital platforms. Some of the lessons we learn through this period of adaptation may be worth continuing with even after things “return to normal”. In the words of Dave Hollis, “In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to."
Let us all comply with the measures the government has rolled out to keep us safe. Doing so will not only benefit us but also the tireless healthcare workers who need us to be vigilant so that they can do their difficult jobs without hospitals being overrun. Some of you may have already seen the video by Dr Michelle Au of Emory St. Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta, an anesthesiologist, who plays the critical role of intubating Covid-19 patients who can't breathe. She aptly said that it is us in the community that are in truth the "frontline" in this battle. The healthcare workers are the last line of defence, so let us do what we must to protect them whether it be by washing our hands, social distancing or complying strictly with stay home notices or quarantine orders.
Singapore has learnt from the experiences of SARS and we have been blessed with sterling and proactive government leadership. The sacrifices made in building up our national reserves since 1965 have proven wise as DPM Heng Swee Keat unveiled an unprecedented S$48.4 billion resilience package on 26 March 2020.
I look forward to meeting you in person again soon. Most importantly, take care of yourselves, your loved ones and your neighbours. We must remain resilient and get through this together.
16 December 2019
December is upon us. It is a fitting time to look back at what 2019 has brought us.
On 26 Nov 2019, we launched the Singapore Arbitration Journal, a joint initiative with the Singapore Academy of Law. Members will all receive complimentary copies. I would like to congratulate the General Editor Mohan Pillay, Editor Chan Leng Sun SC and Publishing Editor Yeo Boon Tat for seeing this vision through from conception to delivery. We are also very grateful to the advisory board of VK Rajah SC, Toby Landau QC, Loretta Malintoppi and Prof Lawrence Boo for taking time to guide us. Not to be forgotten are the invaluable team of Assistant Editors, Ramandeep Kaur, Matthew Koh, Janice Lee, Mahesh Rai, Tan Hai Song, Benjamin Tham, and Derric Yeoh. The aspiration behind the journal was to produce a world class platform for thought leadership on global arbitration issues yet with a Singapore focus. I believe we have achieved that with this first issue and work is already underway to continue this. I hope the journal inspires you to consider making future contributions.
This year we also launched the SIArb Annual Lecture. We were very privileged to have Toby Landau QC with us to speak on “Arbitral Groundhog Day: The Problem of Repeat Claims and Issues in Arbitration”. I understand that Toby will be publishing a paper on this in the next edition of the Singapore Arbitration Journal so we look forward to that.
7 August 2019 will be a day etched forever in our memories. The Singapore Mediation Convention progressed from a dream to reality. Singapore now offers a tripartite solution for dispute resolution through International Arbitration, Mediation and the SICC. Some may be concerned about competition from within. I however believe these 3 offerings complement each other and provide end users a choice which hopefully leads them to Singapore. Competition if any can only be good as we strive to constantly improve and innovate.
The Queen Mary survey results on International Arbitration was released in March this year. Congratulations are in order for SIAC who were ranked the 3rd most preferred arbitral institution in the world. Singapore was ranked the third most preferred seat in the world and the top seat in Asia. The Singapore brand of arbitration excellence is certainly making its mark and we at SIArb must also play our part in ensuring its continued success. One issue that we will continue to raise is ethics in international arbitration. This is the subject of a paper by Michael Hwang SC and Adriana Uson in the journal and I urge you all to reflect on the issues and proposals made. We had kicked off 2019 with a panel session chaired by Leng Sun on the issue of ethics and got to hear views from VK Rajah, Gary Born, Michael Hwang and Professor Lucy Reed. I believe that ethics is the foundation for legal practice. If we lose focus on ethics, we are at risk of losing our status as professionals. The lack of a consistent and uniform enforceable ethical standard is a concern we must pay attention to. SIArb remains committed to widening this conversation.
It remains for me to congratulate our Council members and Committee chairs for all the excellent work they have done. I wish all members a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!
|28 Jul 2020|
05:30PM - 07:15PM
NOW IN WEBINAR FORMAT! Accounting for Disputes: Getting the Most Out of Financial Statements in An Arbitration (28 July 2020)
|20 Aug 2020|
05:30PM - 07:15PM
NOW IN WEBINAR FORMAT! Non-Contractual Claims in Commercial Arbitration (20 August 2020)
|31 Aug 2020|
09:00AM - 05:00PM
POSTPONED TILL FUTHER NOTICE! "Spotlight on Experts" Conference (31 August 2020)
|09 Sep 2020|
05:30PM - 07:15PM
NOW IN WEBINAR FORMAT! Incoterms 2020 - What Practitioners Need To Know (9 September 2020)