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Singapore Court of Appeal: Effect of new arbitration agreement on pending arbitration

In CNA v. CNB and another [2024] SGCA(I) 2, the Singapore Court of Appeal provided its rationale for dismissing an appeal against the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC)'s ruling, which declined to set aside two arbitral awards based on an alleged lack of jurisdiction.

The Court of Appeal confirmed the SICC's finding that the appellant (CNA) had breached its fiduciary duties to the first respondent (CNB) by entering into a new arbitration agreement. It also determined that the new arbitration agreement could not affect the jurisdiction of a tribunal in an ongoing arbitration.

Whether a new arbitration agreement removes the jurisdiction of a tribunal in a pending arbitration established under a previous agreement depends on the terms of the new agreement. If the new agreement does not explicitly remove the tribunal's jurisdiction, it is unlikely that the tribunal will lose its authority.

The Court of Appeal's decision demonstrates that courts will swiftly reject attempts to fabricate jurisdictional objections, especially when fiduciary duties are breached. Furthermore, if parties intend to change the jurisdiction of a tribunal in an ongoing arbitration through a new agreement, they should ensure that the new agreement explicitly states this intention.


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