The following article is taken from the Singapore Law Watch. Click here to go the original article.

Source TODAY
Date 26 Jul 2017
Author Louisa Tang

The Republic will gain a stronger foothold in the new area of dispute resolution between foreign investors and states — or investment dispute resolution — with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) to set up a staffed office here in the next six months.

The office will be its second outside its headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands. The PCA, the oldest global institution for settlement of international disputes signed a host country agreement yesterday with and Singapore’s Ministry of Law.

The new office will provide a base from which the PCA can administer its growing number of cases held in Singapore and Asia.

This year, at least seven PCA cases have been heard, or will be heard, in Singapore — up from the four cases that were heard here in 2015.

Since 2007, Singapore has had a facility agreement with the PCA that allowed the inter-governmental organisation to conduct dispute resolution hearings here on an ad hoc basis.

“With the setting up of the new office, we hope to be able to better serve the dispute resolution needs of States and businesses in Asia and to meet growing demand in coming years,” said Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah.

More opportunities will be created for lawyers here, she added.

Singapore-based practitioners have acted, or are acting, as arbitrator in 31 PCA cases and are currently acting as counsel in nine pending PCA cases.

There is “certainly room for more to participate” and Ms Indranee said her ministry is “looking into how we can grow work in the area of investment arbitration”.

Many treaties and investment agreements designate the PCA as the appointing authority of arbitrators, or charge it with providing registry services or hearing facilities for PCA-administered disputes, she said.

The new office will put Singapore in a better position to host arbitration proceedings related to any dispute arising out of such agreements.

It will be based at Maxwell Chambers, an integrated dispute resolution complex, before moving to the new adjacent building, the Maxwell Chambers Suites, in 2019.

Singapore has been a “client” of the PCA’s services. In 2012, for example, Singapore and Malaysia agreed to submit the dispute over development charges on former Malayan railway land to final and binding arbitration, with the PCA acting as registry for the arbitral tribunal.

PCA secretary-general Hugo Siblesz called Singapore a “choice destination” for international arbitration and said the organisation has had positive experiences working with lawyers from Singapore.

In the last three months alone, the PCA has administered five investor-State arbitration hearings in Singapore, he said. “Of course, we are big fans of chilli crab,” he quipped.

According to the Hague Justice Portal, the PCA does not have sitting judges and the parties themselves select the arbitrators, unlike the International Court of Justice.

Its sessions are held in private and are confidential.

About 60 people, including Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Attorney-General Lucien Wong, attended the signing ceremony.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Read the Joint Press Release dated 25 July 2017, taken from the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.