First for the “Lean” – the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) Rules 2010 came into effect on 1 July 2010.
This third edition replaces the SIAC Rules 2007 and is part of SIAC’s efforts to stay lean and effective as it keeps apace with the rapid growth of international arbitration.
Key updates include an expedited arbitration procedure for claim amounts less than S$5 m or in cases of exceptional urgency. The expedited process requires an award to be issued within six months from the tribunal being constituted and the reasons for the award may be in “summary form” under the expedited procedure.
Also new to the Rules are the inclusion of a new rule on interim and emergency relief through an Emergency Arbitrator prior to the constitution of tribunal.
The Rules also establish an SIAC committee to decide on jurisdictional challenges to the arbitrator when the other party does not agree to a challenge to the arbitrator and the arbitrator being challenged does not withdraw voluntarily within 7 days of notice of challenge.
Added teeth have been added to provide additional protection of confidentiality as the tribunal may impose sanctions for breach of confidentiality obligations.
A key change to the 2007 Rules was the introduction of a Memorandum of Issues to be drawn up between the parties. This has now been removed in the new 2010 Rules.
With the growing popularity of international arbitration as a dispute resolution option, the robustness and flexibility of the amended SIAC Rules have offered a timely change when choosing SIAC as the administrating body for arbitration in Singapore.
The “greening” of equatorial Singapore sounds a bit odd until you realise that it refers to the Garden City’s buildings. Singapore has emerged as one of the more aggressive governments within the Asia-Pacific region in its pursuit of a green building program.
The Building Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark certification scheme introduced in 2005 allowed developers till 2008 for the mandatory Green Mark scoring as part of Building Plan submissions and applications for Temporary Occupation Permits.
The certification comes with financial incentives as the BCA awards higher Gross Floor Area values for higher-tier Green Mark ratings.
Amongst the checklist items are efficient design for natural ventilation and lighting. Interestingly, points are also given for adjusting mechanical ventilation requirements in car-parks vis a vis CO sensors.
Heat transmitted from the roof is taken into account. Aesthetically, this has not been a bad thing with the creative use of roof gardens by developers. Even water efficiency toes the “green” line with rainwater diverted to landscape irrigation and bonus points given for using renewable energy from solar power or wind.
It’s been a testament to the BCA’s efforts that by May 2010, there are now 450 green buildings in Singapore with a total floor area of 16 million square meters or 8 percent of Singapore’s Gross Floor Area.
Other initiatives include a CleanTech Park (CTP) to be developed from July this year. The “green” themed business Park is expected to complete in 2030 with 20,000 people in 30 “living laboratory” buildings. These include “clean-tech” companies to commercialise green urban solutions for Singapore and the Asia-Pacific, along the same lines as Masdar City in the UAE.
The legal services landscape in Singapore is changing as well with the introduction of a new Joint Law Venture on the scene in the form of Pinsent Masons MPillay LLP, granted a JLV license in July this year by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
Thomas Edison once said “Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits” – It’s an apt description of the association between Pinsent Masons and MPillay as the two entities patiently operated closely with each other for three years, by way of a formal association, from 2007 before obtaining their JLV license.
The pairing of the two entities through the JLV will allow a full range of service offerings as a “one-stop shop” option for clients, combining Pinsent Masons’ widely acknowledged international expertise with MPillay’s award winning in-depth local knowledge and experience.
As the sixth JLV in Singapore, it won’t be the first JLV but it will certainly be unique in its dedicated focus on the construction, engineering and energy sectors.
So some interesting and I believe positive developments for the Singapore legal environment in signing off this “Lean Green Venture” story.
Mohan R Pillay
Managing Partner, MPillay
Adj. Assoc. Prof., Faculty of Law, Nat. Univ. of Singapore
Visiting Professor, Centre of Construction Law, King’s College London
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