Singapore - Part M - Arbitration in Asia - 2nd Edition
Originally from Arbitration in Asia - 2nd Edition
Singapore was founded in 1819 as part of the Straits Settlements (comprising Penang, Malacca, and Singapore), but it was only after 1826 that a court system was set up throughout the Straits Settlements. However, case law from as early as 1839 indicates that arbitration was well alive in the early years of the Straits Settlements. For example, in Ponachee VJB Westerhout and The East India Company, the Straits Settlements Supreme Court refused an application to set aside an award.
In 1890, an Arbitration Ordinance was enacted in the Straits Settlements. This Ordinance, which has an interesting legislative history, was replaced by another Arbitration Ordinance in 1953. The Arbitration Ordinance of 1953 was renamed the Arbitration Act in independent Singapore. On 1 March 2002, a new Arbitration Act, which replaced the previous Arbitration Act, came into force. For the purposes of this Singapore chapter, the previous Arbitration Act shall be referred to as the "old Arbitration Act" (or "old AA") and the present Arbitration Act as the "Arbitration Act" (or "AA").
The Arbitration Ordinance and, later, the old AA, drew little distinction between international and domestic arbitrations. In 1986, following Singapore’s accession to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (the "New York Convention"), the Arbitration (Foreign Awards) Act was enacted in Singapore. Although this Act drew a greater degree of distinction between international and domestic arbitrations, it did not provide an independent regime for the conduct of arbitrations in Singapore involving foreign parties or elements. This is because the Arbitration (Foreign Awards) Act was principally concerned with the enforcement of arbitral awards made in New York Convention countries (and the stay of court proceedings pending arbitration). The old AA continued to apply generally to other matters.