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Legal Updates

Legal Updates for December 2021

Streamlining of Maritime Arbitration Proceedings under Fourth Edition of SCMA Rules
The Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration ("SCMA") is a specialist arbitration institution that aims to promote maritime arbitration in Singapore. Since its formation, it has established a solid presence in the region, with the quantum of claims handled reaching approximately US$120 million in 2019.

Amidst a constantly evolving maritime arbitration landscape, SCMA continues to keep itself current by updating its rules with the launch of the Fourth Edition of the SCMA Rules on 1 December 2021. The Fourth Edition seeks to reflect current shipping arbitration practices, reduce costs, and streamline arbitral proceedings.

Here, we look at the following key changes:

  1. Streamlining arbitral proceedings by:
    1. Permitting two arbitrators to see an arbitration and an award to their conclusion;
    2. Removing the mandatory requirement for oral hearings;
    3. Implementing a default time limit for the close of proceedings;
    4. Requiring tribunal approval for change of counsel;
  2. Adoption of electronic methods, namely:
    1. Electronic service of documents;
    2. Electronic signing of awards;
    3. Virtual case management meetings and hearings;
  3. Other amendments, namely:
    1. Increasing the monetary threshold for the Expedited Procedure; and
    2. Application of the SCMA Standard Terms of Appointment by default.

MAS Revises Corporate Governance Guidelines for Singapore-Incorporated Banks & Insurers
On 9 November 2021, the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") published revised Guidelines on Corporate Governance ("2021 CG Guidelines") for financial holding companies, banks and insurers incorporated in Singapore (collectively, "FIs").

This follows an earlier MAS consultation in May 2021. The CG Guidelines provide guidance on best good practices on corporate governance that FIs should observe. It comprises the Principles and Provisions of the Code of Corporate Governance 2018 ("CG Code") which apply to companies listed on the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited ("SGX-ST") as well as additional guidelines prescribed by MAS having regard to the unique characteristics of the businesses of banks and insurers.

Singapore-incorporated banks and insurers which are listed on SGX-ST are already required to comply with the Principles of the CG Code. Among other changes set out in the 2021 CG Guidelines, Singapore-incorporated banks, Tier 1 insurers and designated financial holding companies that own a Singapore-incorporated bank or Tier 1 insurer are now expected to observe most of the Principles of the CG Code even though they are not listed on SGX-ST. Tier 2 insurers and other designated financial holding companies are also expected to observe the Principles or explain any variance in their annual reports or on their company websites.

This Update highlights the main revisions in the 2021 CG Guidelines.

Arbitration and Anti-Suit Injunctions: Singapore Court Issues Landmark Decision on the Proper Law for Determining Subject Matter Arbitrability
When a claim is filed in Court in breach of an arbitration agreement, the defendant's key recourse is to seek an anti-suit injunction at the national courts of the seat of the arbitration to restrain the counterparty. Such applications are usually heavily contested as the counterparty would invariably raise various defences as to why the court action should proceed. If the claimant's position is that the dispute is not arbitrable, how should the Court consider such an argument? Should the Court consider the issue of arbitrability under the law governing the arbitration agreement or the law of the seat of arbitration?

In Westbridge Ventures II Investment Holdings v Anupam Mittal [2021] SGHC 244, the Singapore High Court was faced with the exact issue above. The decision is novel as this is the first time that the Singapore Courts or the Courts of the Commonwealth jurisdictions have decided this issue. In this Update, we highlight the key points of the Court's judgment.

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