23 April 2019

Singapore tops Asian disputes poll

Asian lawyers prefer Singapore as venue for dispute resolution according to poll, established system and familiarity offered as two main reasons.

By Dr David Cowan


Two-thirds of  legal practitioners and in-house counsel engaged in cross-border transactions in Asia have chosen Singapore as their preferred venue for disputes resolution.

Stronger position

The poll, taken by over 600 legal practitioners and in-house counsel, revealed 63 per cent selecting the republic. This is an increase of 11 percentage points on 2015, suggesting Singapore’s place as a dispute resolution hub is strengthening. The survey was commissioned by the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) and conducted by research firm Ipsos in the first quarter of this year. Around half of the respondents were based in Singapore, with the rest in other jurisdictions including India, Indonesia and the Philippines. Chairman of SAL's promotion of Singapore law committee, Justice Vinodh Coomaraswamy, said in a statement that the survey results highlight the "great strides" Singapore law has made in its short history. He said, "Our law provides a business-friendly framework and includes an established and well-developed body of commercial law equipped to deal with cross-border transactions. It is well placed to serve the needs of businesses in Asia."


The top two reasons cited for choosing Singapore law as the governing law in cross-border contracts were the established legal system and jurisprudence, as well as respondents' familiarity with the law. The survey found that familiarity with Singapore's arbitration services remained high, with 82 per cent of respondents saying they were either "very familiar" or "quite familiar" with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. Also, 35 per cent said they are "very familiar" or "quite familiar" with the Singapore International Commercial Court, 6 percentage points more than in 2015. However, familiarity with the Singapore International Mediation Centre dipped slightly, from 36 per cent in 2015 to 34 per cent this year. The survey also found that while English law was still the most frequently used governing law in cross-border transactions in Asia, the use of Singapore law was increasing, from 25 per cent in 2015 to 29 per cent this year. In contrast, the adoption of English law fell, from 48 per cent in 2015 to 43 per cent this year.

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