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A Guide to Singapore's Leading Arbitration Institutions

Arbitration is an increasingly popular method for resolving disputes, especially within the realm of international business transactions. As globalization progresses, the interconnection of markets across different jurisdictions has made arbitration an attractive alternative to traditional litigation. According to the 2021 Queen Mary International Arbitration Survey, Singapore is the second most preferred venue for arbitrations world-wide.
Singapore, with its reputation for a robust legal framework, political stability, and strategic geographical location, has emerged as a preeminent hub for arbitration. This prominence is supported by the nation's commitment to maintaining an updated and internationally harmonized legal infrastructure, which provides an efficient, transparent, and reliable environment for conducting arbitration. This article delves into the most prominent arbitration institutions in Singapore, such as the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) and the Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA), examining their distinctive roles, advanced features, and significant contributions to reinforcing Singapore's status as a preferred venue for arbitration globally.

1. Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC)

Founded in 1991, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) is at the forefront of administering international commercial arbitration in Singapore. SIAC's reputation is built on its ability to provide a neutral, efficient, and reliable dispute resolution service, positioning it as a cornerstone of arbitration not only in Asia but globally. SIAC has consistently been recognized for its integrity and procedural excellence, which are critical in the field of arbitration. It is renowned for its rigorous case management capabilities, facilitated by a dedicated team of legal professionals and supported by state-of-the-art technology, which ensures that arbitration processes are conducted smoothly and effectively.

SIAC's rules and procedures are regularly updated to reflect the latest in global best practices and innovations in arbitration. This includes unique features such as emergency arbitrators, expedited procedures, and the early dismissal of claims and defenses, which enhance its appeal to international businesses looking for swift and effective dispute resolution mechanisms. These characteristics, combined with SIAC's commitment to upholding the highest standards of service, have significantly contributed to its high caseload from diverse jurisdictions, underscoring its role as a leader in the field.

Global Recognition: SIAC is one of the world’s leading arbitration institutions, with its cases involving parties from all around the world. Its procedures and awards are well-respected and recognized internationally for their enforceability.

Rules and Procedures: SIAC’s rules are designed to ensure fair, efficient, and cost-effective proceedings. The SIAC Rules 2016, as amended in 2021 (there are new draft rules dated 22.08.2023), include provisions for emergency arbitration, expedited procedure, and the early dismissal of claims and defenses. These features make it an attractive option for parties seeking a swift resolution of disputes.

Panel of Arbitrators: SIAC boasts a diverse panel of over 500 independent and neutral arbitrators from more than 40 countries, covering various legal systems and areas of expertise. This diversity ensures that parties can select arbitrators who best suit their specific needs.

Case Management: SIAC is renowned for its proactive case management approach, led by experienced and skilled case managers. This facilitates a smoother and more efficient arbitration process.

2. Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA)

Established in 2004 and subsequently reconstituted in 2009 to better serve the evolving needs of the global maritime sector, the Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA) provides a specialized framework for resolving maritime and offshore disputes. Recognizing the unique challenges and intricacies of the maritime industry, SCMA offers a tailored approach that grants significant flexibility and autonomy to all disputing parties. This flexibility is evident in its procedural rules, which allow parties to select arbitrators from a broad panel of maritime experts and to define many elements of the arbitration process to suit their specific needs.

SCMA's model is designed to encourage a more direct and accessible arbitration process, minimizing the need for extensive procedural oversight and thereby reducing the time and costs associated with dispute resolution. The institution's focus on sector-specific expertise and its emphasis on streamlined, user-driven processes make it an attractive choice for a wide array of parties involved in maritime commerce, ranging from shipping companies to insurance firms, reflecting SCMA’s commitment to facilitating effective and efficient dispute resolution within the global maritime and offshore industries.

Key Features

Sector-Specific Expertise: SCMA understands the nuances of maritime and offshore industries, making it a preferred choice for disputes in these sectors.

No Requirement for Administrative Fees: SCMA operates on a model that does not require the payment of upfront administrative fees, which can be a significant saving for the parties. Panel of Experts: Like SIAC, SCMA maintains a diverse panel, but with a focus on maritime and offshore expertise.

SCMA Arbitration Rules: The SCMA’s arbitration rules provide for an efficient and flexible framework that parties can adapt to meet their specific requirements. The rules support ad hoc arbitrations, where parties are free to agree on many aspects of the arbitration process. 

3. Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC)

While primarily focused on mediation, the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC), founded in 2014, works closely with SIAC to provide integrated dispute resolution services. The SIMC is instrumental for parties that are looking to mediate before, or even during, arbitration proceedings.

Services and Initiatives: Arb-Med-Arb Protocol: SIMC collaborates with SIAC to offer the Arb-Med-Arb protocol, where parties can attempt mediation during an ongoing arbitration. If mediation resolves the dispute, the outcome can be converted into a consent award by the arbitral tribunal. Expert Mediators: SIMC offers access to a skilled panel of international mediators with expertise across various industries. 

4. Maxwell Chambers

Maxwell Chambers is not an arbitration institution per se but plays a crucial role in supporting arbitration in Singapore. It is a state-of-the-art facility that hosts hearings and provides services for international dispute resolution. It houses both SIAC and SIMC, among other international ADR bodies.

Facilities and Services: Hearing Rooms: Equipped with the latest technology for conducting effective hearings. Support Services: Provides comprehensive support including translation, transcription, and video conferencing. 

5. The Role of the Singapore Government

The Singapore government’s proactive approach to promoting Singapore as a global arbitration hub cannot be overstated. The government has implemented policies that support arbitration, including a judiciary known for its arbitration-friendly legal framework and minimal interference in arbitration proceedings.


Singapore’s dedication to creating a conducive environment for arbitration is evident in the robust ecosystem it has developed, comprising leading institutions like SIAC and SCMA, and world-class facilities like Maxwell Chambers. These institutions not only cater to the logistical needs of arbitration but also uphold the highest standards of neutrality, efficiency, and integrity.

For businesses and legal professionals worldwide, Singapore stands out as a strategic, reliable, and impartial venue for resolving disputes. Whether dealing with commercial or maritime disputes, parties can be assured of a framework that offers flexibility, expertise, and a commitment to upholding the rule of law.

In summary, the arbitration institutions in Singapore are pivotal to its success as a global arbitration hub. They provide structured yet flexible frameworks that are essential for the efficient and effective resolution of disputes in today's interconnected world. This makes Singapore not only a focal point in Asia but also a leader in international arbitration globally.

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