COVID-19 International Arbitration Protocol

May 1, 2020

Beihai Asia International Arbitration Centre in Singapore (BAIAC) and Eversheds Harry Elias respond to COVID-19 with International Arbitration Protocol Singapore, 1 May 2020 In response to the current COVID-19 global pandemic, the Beihai Asia International Arbitration Centre (BAIAC) and Eversheds Harry Elias today introduced the COVID-19 International Arbitration Protocol (“the Protocol”). The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented scale of global business interruptions and will likely to lead to commercial disputes for many individuals and businesses. Considering the varying circumstances of parties, the pressing resolution of their disputes may be essential. Believed to the first of its kind, the Protocol provides a viable option enabling parties to access private arbitration as a flexible and expedient alternative to court litigation, especially where access to the latter is not readily unavailable. In essence, the Protocol provides for submission to international arbitration under the Singapore International Arbitration Act (Cap. 143A) with BAIAC acting as appointer of arbitrator. The Protocol shall operate for six (6) months from 1 May 2020 to 31 October 2020 and may be extended. BAIAC’s President Professor Steve Ngo said “I reiterate the need to make arbitration, makes sense again. Following the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak, we hear the views from those in the international business community as regards the deluge of disputes that may come. When approached by Mr Shaun Leong, Partner of Eversheds Harry Elias to collaborate in introducing the Protocol, I immediately appreciate the need to respond to this by doing our small part. In fact, the former United Kingdom’s Supreme Court president, Lord Neuberger recently also warned about potential overwhelming number of commercial cases due to the pandemic.[i]” He further added that “I particularly appreciate Mr Leong’s foresight, who has had an exemplary record in the judiciary including his involvement in the formation of the Singapore International Commercial Court prior to private practice, where today he is widely recognised as a leading dispute resolution practitioner.” Mr Shaun Leong, Partner at Eversheds Harry Elias said: “With a poor global economic outlook caused by the pandemic, it is inevitable that the incidence of international commercial disputes would increase. At the same time, national courts all over the world have shut down temporarily or significantly reduced their operations, in a bid to control the outbreak. Some countries have imposed moratorium against commencing court actions in a bid to help businesses tide over these challenging times (which make perfect sense for many businesses). Moving forward, it is evident that national courts in different parts of the world would be re-opening gradually, only to face a significant logjam of cases accumulated months prior. For many businesses, not being able to resolve their disputes expediently is actually detrimental to their businesses, and impedes their ability to pull through this economic crisis. When faced with a dispute, businesses invariably are predominantly concerned with the worst (or best) outcomes. Where there is a dispute, there are businesses that would rather deal with it now, than to have to wait for a prolonged period of time. Likewise, if there is a loss that the business is going to suffer, many businesses would rather know it […]

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BAIAC Year end cocktail

December 3, 2019

On 2 December 2019, BAIAC held its year end evening cocktail which was well attended by distinguished guests locally and regionally, amidst heavy downpour. Conducted in a private bar in the Victoria Concert Hall, retired Malaysian Court of Appeal Judge now in private practice, Dato’ Varghese Abraham gave a most enlightening evening talk on his experience dealing with arbitration from the bench to the bar. During the cocktail, BAIAC’s President Prof. Steve Ngo also announced the Rules of Arbitration after extended consultation with various stakeholders and potential users. It also unveiled its inaugural panel of arbitrators and mediators. The Arbitration Rules of BAIAC adopts the UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) Rules of Arbitration with modifications to include a provision for “Small Claims Procedure” for disputes not exceeding S$100,000. Such procedure provides for abbreviated proceedings. Among others for such proceedings, the arbitral tribunal will be expected to conduct the arbitration for the parties and to provide a draft arbitration award within 60 days from end of hearing. BAIAC will provide a cost efficient fee structure for such proceedings. This is very much in line with BAIAC’s aim of providing alternative arbitration services to small and medium enterprises and also in response to the industry’s common grievance about high cost in arbitration. BAIAC also unveiled its inaugural panel of arbitrators and mediators. With gender and generational diversities in mind, the panel also comprised of senior regional practitioners who are committed to guiding the younger generation of practitioners which includes arbitration luminaries such as Mr Francis Xavier, Senior Counsel, Regional Head (Dispute Resolution Group) of Rajah & Tann, and CIArb’s Global President for 2020; Dato’ Jude Benny, well-known shipping arbitrator and lawyer; Dato’ Varghese Abraham, retired Malaysian Court of Appeal Judge; Ms Chia Yong Yong, Singaporean lawyer, disability advocate and former Nominated Member of Parliament; Mr Rengarajoo Balasamy, veteran mediator and arbitrator; and young arbitration stars such as Mr Shaun Leong, Partner for International Arbitration at Eversheds Harry Elias LLP who previously served in a judicial capacity with the Singapore High Court and Ms Yvette Anthony, Partner, Braddell Brothers LLP. BAIAC looks forward to further engagement with local and regional arbitration practitioners as well as developing the “Resolve in Singapore” proposition through collaborations in the region with other arbitral institutions as well as the public and private sectors.

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Participation at the annual CCPIT International Commercial & Legal Cooperation Forum, Changsha

November 30, 2019

BAIAC was invited to participate in the 2019 CCPIT International Commercial & Legal Cooperation Forum in Changsha, Hunan. A major CCPIT event hosted by Changsha city annually, this year it was held from 26 – 30 November 2019. The forum was also attended by representatives from various countries. Representing Singapore at the event was Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law, Mr Edwin Tong. During the visit, BAIAC held various discussions with key stakeholders, including China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and Hunan Lawyers’ Association leadership on deepening Singapore-ASEAN-China regional arbitration initiatives.

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International Commercial Arbitration Summit, 31 August 2019

August 31, 2019

SHANGHAI, 31 August 2019 – Beihai Arbitration Commission organised an international commercial arbitration summit in Shanghai attended by Chairman of Beihai Arbitration Commission Mr Zhong Hong, Vice-Chairman of Beihai Arbitration Commission, Prof Ma Zhangjun, Vice-Chairman of Beihai Arbitration Commission, Mr Zhu Jifan and President of BAIAC Prof Steve Ngo. The panel of speakers comprised of Prof Louise Otis and Prof Fabien Gelinas from McGill University, Canada and other distinguished speakers from Beijing and Shanghai. In his presentation, Prof Ngo emphasised on the need for institutions to better understand the needs of arbitration users, for essentially they are the parties who are beset with disputes. The increasingly high cost of arbitration and its complexity are some of the issues that need to be addressed in order to make arbitration, making sense again. During the summit, various issues were discussed including current trend in China and overseas, attracting many good questions as well as responses from the audience. The summit was also broadcasted online and watched by many audience in China and abroad.

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Launch of BAIAC on 8 August 2019

August 8, 2019

SINGAPORE – Beihai Asia International Arbitration Centre (BAIAC) was inaugurated on 8 August 2019 witnessed by guests from Singapore and overseas which included China, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand and Indonesia. In attendence were His Excellency Joseph Del Mar Yap, Ambassador of the Republic of Philippines to Singapore, Mr Duan Chongbo, Secretary (Economic and Commercial), Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore, Dr Aria Wibisono, Counsellor for Economic Trade, Embassy of Indonesia in Singapore, His Honour Justice Dato Dr Hamid Sultan, Court of Appeal, Federal Court of Malaysia and Ms Chua Xin Juan, Director of the Professional Services Programme Office, Ministry of Law, Singapore. In the inauguration speech, founding President of BAIAC, Professor Steve Ngo remarked that Beihai is not unfamiliar to Singapore whereby the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew visited the city 26 years ago in 1993 and was reported by the Straits Times commenting that he was impressed with Beihai’s potential for tourism and trade development, including the harbour. BAIAC is the first international arbitration centre established in Singapore by a Chinese arbitration commission, tapping into China-ASEAN-Singapore connections, which is very much in line with the aspiration of regional people-to-people exchanges for the futherance of arbitration and dispute resolution initiatives. The impetus for the establishment of BAIAC can be attributed to two core factors; costs and enhanced regional dispute resolution efforts. Mr Zhong Hong, Chairman of Beihai Arbitration Commission in his speech mentioned that in 2018 Beihai Arbitration Commission recorded 58,869 cases with a cumulative value of RMB 10 billion. For the first-half of 2019, over 47,000 cases in China have been recorded. He expressed his optimism for the establishment of Beihai’s international centre in Singapore as the city state is already a renown international arbitration venue. During the inauguration, the founding Committee members of BAIAC were announced, comprising of leading arbitration practitioners from China, South East Asia, East Asia and South Asia. Specifically, BAIAC would like to promote generational, gender and geographical diversity through its Committee members and arbitrators.

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