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Ministry of Law Issues Public Consultation on the International Arbitration Act and the Proposed Enactment of the new Foreign Limitation Periods Act.

10 January, 2012

 

Legal News & Analysis – Asia Pacific – Singapore – Dispute Resolution

 

A public consultation was issued on 20  October 2011 by the Ministry of Law on proposed amendments to the International Arbitration Act ("IAA") and the proposed enactment of the Foreign Limitation Periods Act ("FLPA").

 

As more international arbitrations are being conducted in Singapore under the IAA, the Ministry of Law has proposed several amendments to the IAA, primarily to expand the scope of the jurisdiction and powers of arbitral tribunals.
 
The proposed amendments to the IAA are to:
 
(a) Relax the current requirement that arbitration agreements be in writing and to extend the application of the IAA to arbitration agreements conducted by any means (orally, by conduct or otherwise), as long as their content is recorded;
 
(b) Allow Singapore courts to review rulings by arbitral tribunals that these tribunals do not have jurisdiction to hear the dispute (negative jurisdictional rulings). Currently, Singapore courts can only review rulings by arbitral tribunals that they have jurisdiction;
 
(c) Clarify the scope of arbitral tribunals’ powers to award interest in arbitral proceedings; and
 
(d) Provide legislative support for the appointment of “emergency arbitrators” before the arbitral tribunal hearing the dispute is properly constituted.
 
The Ministry of Law is also proposing the enactment of the FLPA which would clarify the issue of which country's limitation laws apply to disputes that are litigated in Singapore but which are governed by the law of another jurisdiction.
 
Currently, the issue of which limitation law applies is governed by case law, which has drawn a distinction between the substantive law of the dispute (also known as the governing law of the contract, which would govern the rights and obligations of parties to the dispute) and the procedural law of the dispute (which would govern the procedures to be followed when litigating or arbitrating the dispute).
 
Unfortunately, the cases have not been entirely clear in determining whether a limitation period is a matter of substantive law or procedural law.
 
In line with the Law Reform Committee's recommendation, the Ministry of Law has therefore proposed that the rules of the law governing the dispute should apply to limitation periods. The proposed amendments would apply to both arbitration and court proceedings.
 
The public consultations closed on 21 November 2011 and we expect that the new rules would be implemented sometime in the next 2 years.
 
 
For further information, please contact:
 
John Howes, Joint Head of Office – Singapore, Pinsent Masons MPillay
jon.howes@pinsentmasons.com
 
Mohan Pillay, Joint Head of Office – Singapore, Pinsent Masons MPillay
mohan.pillay@pinsentmasons.com
 

 

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