LAUNCH OF SINGAPORE CHAMBER OF MARITIME ARBITRATION
Singapore, 8 Nov 2004 - Singapore launched its Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA) today - a move that will further the Republic's aim to serve as Asia's centre of maritime legal expertise and dispute resolution.
SCMA aims to win a larger share of the global maritime legal business, given Singapore's proximity to Asian markets and that the city is the regional base for over 4,000 international shipping companies.
The establishment of the SCMA is the result of the efforts of the Working Group on Maritime Arbitration formed under the auspices of the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF).
The Working Group obtained private sector input and views and the support and participation from key stakeholders namely, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), the Singapore Maritime Arbitrators Association (SMAA), the Maritime Law Association of Singapore (MLAS), the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (SIArb) and the Law Faculty of the National University of Singapore (NUS).They also offered access to a network of distinguished professionals and arbitrators - assistance that helped substantially towards the formation of SCMA.
The launch was officiated by the Minister of State for Finance and Transport, Mrs. Lim Hwee Hua, at Raffles Hotel.
The launch, said Dato' Jude Benny, Board Member of SMF and Chairman of the Working Group, would write "an exciting chapter" in maritime arbitration and take it to the next level.
He thanked Associate Professor Lawrence Boo, Deputy Chairman, SIAC, and its Board of Directors for their "full and unqualified support".Professor Boo is the Chairman of SCMA.
There was a common misunderstanding, Dato' Jude Benny said, that Singapore arbitration meant that the dispute must be resolved in accordance with Singapore law, hence causing concern to those unfamiliar with our laws.
"Singapore arbitration merely refers to the seat or place of administration of the arbitration. The applicable law can be chosen by the parties at the time they concluded their contract. SCMA therefore hopes to facilitate and encourage parties to choose Singapore for their arbitrations by providing a professional and efficient structure, with an international panel of highly qualified arbitrators with diverse expertise and background," said Dato' Jude Benny.
Consistency, integrity and impartiality, together with access to complementary services such as banking, communications and insurance, had all been cited as strengths for London. These were values and attributes that could equally have been used to describe Singapore.
He added: "I would also like to reach out to the community of offshore law firms based here in Singapore with a message of hope that you will do your utmost to contribute to a vibrant maritime arbitration landscape here. While there has previously been a trend to remit cases out of the Singapore jurisdiction, in favour of various home jurisdictions, I am pleased to note that recent amendments to the Legal Profession Act has seen a significant drop in this trend. We hope to see your unqualified support for SCMA in the years ahead."
Associate Professor Boo believes that the formation of SCMA will serve as a positive focus for shipowners, charterers, shipbrokers and marine insurance companies when considering dispute resolution clauses in their contracts.He added: "The world's leading ports are also leading centres for maritime arbitration. There is no reason why this should not be so for Singapore."
The shipping community showed its support for the SCMA when six major Singapore maritime companies presented letters of pledge to use SCMA's facilities for dispute resolution and to include SCMA arbitration clauses in their maritime-related contracts, where appropriate.
The companies were Keppel, NOL, Pacific Carriers, Pacific International Lines, Pan United and Sembawang.
"This strong display of support, and the fact that distinguished maritime leaders are serving on its advisory committee and panel of arbitrators, show that SCMA has made a good start,"said Ms Trudy Leung, SMF general manager.
Mrs. Lim unveiled the SCMA logo and presented Letters of Appointment to members of the SCMA Advisory Committee. The Chairman of the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore, Mr. Peter Ong, handed out Certificates of Appointment to the arbitrators on its inaugural panel.
About Singapore International Arbitration Centre
The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) is the leading arbitral institution in Asia.It offers parties a neutral and independent forum to resolve their commercial disputes and provides the necessary institutional support.Established in 1991, SIAC has managed some 750 cases, involving parties from the Americas, Europe, Asia and other parts of the world.Two-third of these cases have involved non-Singaporean parties.
SIAC provides the following services: it helps parties to appoint their arbitrator when they are unable to agree; it manages all the financial accounts between parties and the arbitrator according to published transparency guidelines; it monitors and supervises the progress of the arbitration; and it assists in arranging the logistics, facilities and services for the arbitration.Please visit www.siac.org.sg for more information.
About Singapore Maritime Foundation
The Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) is a private sector-led organisation that works in partnership with different sectors of the maritime industry and relevant government agencies to promote and develop Singapore as an international maritime centre. Established in January 2004, the SMF is directed by a Board and supported by a permanent secretariat.It has also established an Advisory Panel which comprises industry practitioners.Please visit www.sgmf.com.sg for more information.