Saturday, May 18, 2013

SIAC Opens up in India. It's First Outside Singapore.

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), for the first time stepping outside the island nation, has opened up its new office in the financial capital of India, Mumbai. India’s image as a country significantly contributing to international arbitration case load is being increasingly recognized. World’s major arbitration institutes want their share of this big pie. Few years back LCIA too had chosen India to open its first off shore office: LCIA India. However, unlike LCIA India, SIAC shall not be having separate arbitration Rules for India. India, as a seat for international arbitration does not seem to be a preferred choice among the international corporations.

Mr. Vivekananda N., Head (South Asia) of SIAC would be heading this office. Here are his answers to few questions with regard to SIAC India.

This is SIAC's first offshore office, why was India chosen?

SIAC has continued to focus on engaging with the Indian market since 2005.

The years 2009 and 2010 saw the number of India-related cases at the SIAC grow by about 100% in 2009 (24 cases in 2009 as compared to 11 in 2008) and another 50% in 2010 (36 cases in 2010). The number of cases involving Indian parties was the single largest contingent of cases from a single non-Singaporean nationality at the SIAC for these years.

As a consequence of these developments and the positive response we received from the community in India, it was felt that it would be useful to maintain a presence in India through an office to reach out to lawyers and users in India. With this in mind, in mid-2011, the SIAC Board of Directors headed by Dr Michael Pryles decided to commence efforts to explore the opening of an office in India.

Would SIAC have separate rules to govern arbitrations in India?

The India office of the SIAC is not involved in the administration of cases in India. The office is a subsidiary of the SIAC. It is charged with functions of interacting with our current and potential users and sharing information on international arbitration jurisprudence and practice with a view to marketing SIAC’s and Singapore’s capabilities in this regard.

What would be the role of SIAC India office?

Our primary focus will remain the provision of practical information necessary to lawyers and corporate users for the effective use of international arbitration as a dispute resolution mechanism. Making arbitration cost-effective, timely and efficient for Indian and other parties and letting them know that this is imminently possible outside of courts is of paramount importance for the SIAC.

What are your plans for the coming 3 years?

The Indian market is fairly widespread across industry sectors and cities. The office provides us with the perfect opportunity to reach out to lesser known sectors and the smaller cities in India though Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore will continue to remain primary areas of focus.

The office will continue our efforts to obtain continuous feedback on our services as an arbitral institution, such feedback being crucial to maintaining and constantly improving the quality of our case management and administration capabilities.

The office will also provide us with the opportunity to work more closely with the judiciary and the government in India on policy initiatives, regular exchange of ideas on live issues, legislative change, amongst others.

Last but not the least, we also look forward to working with the Indian lawyers of tomorrow at universities to train them in international arbitration practice and actively work towards developing a dynamic arbitration bar in India.

Better awareness, understanding and practice of international arbitration in India is in the best interest of everyone involved, the users, lawyers, the judiciary and arbitral institutions.

How many cases at SIAC involved Indian parties in recent past?

In 2012, about 21% of cases at SIAC involved at least one Indian party. I attach a Statistical Report on our India-related cases. Some interesting facts:
(i) The number of new cases at SIAC has gone up by 25% from 2011 to 2012
(ii) The number of new cases involving at least one Indian party has grown tenfold in the period from 2001 to 2012 and by almost 50% from 2011 to 2012
(iii) The monetary quantum of disputes involving at least one Indian party has similarly gone up by 200% from 2011 to 2012
(iv) The largest case for 2012 was a case involving an Indian party and involved a sum in dispute of SGD 1.5 billion
(v) The average dispute amount at the SIAC for 2012 in cases involving Indian parties was SGD 41.88 million. Even without the largest case being accounted for, the average sum in dispute for cases involving Indian parties went up by 66% from 2011 to 2012. This implies that not only are more Indian parties opting to arbitrate at the SIAC but that higher value contracts involving Indian parties increasingly provide for arbitration at the SIAC.
The link to the full report is below: 

Statistical Report of Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) on India 2012

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