In a key policy speech given by the Deputy Prime Minister, who chairs the Financial Sector Review Group, it was made clear that the Singapore government, in its focus on making Singapore a regional financial centre, is rethinking its entire strategy. In particular, the emphasis will now be shifted from regulation to supervision of the financial sector, with greater reliance placed on market forces and market discipline and on full information disclosure rather than extensive regulations to protect investors. Greater transparency will also be provided in regulations, and attention will be focussed on systemic risk rather than undue protection of individual participants, products or projects.
The revised Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) Rules were recently launched. Revision of the Rules was undertaken in line with the Singapore International Arbitration Act (IAA) in 1994, resulting in adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law in Singapore.
The new Rules give the SIAC greater flexibility in catering for international arbitration, in line with the Singapore government's effort to make Singapore an international financial centre.
Key features of the new Rules are:
- power of the SIAC Chairman to appoint the arbitrator(s), either from the outset or if parties are unable to agree on the arbitrator(s) after a fixed period, thereby providing greater flexibility and speed. Exercise of the power is not appealable.
- provision of clear detailed powers of the arbitral tribunal, particularly, powers relating to the preservation of the subject matter of the dispute, discovery and inspection of documents, injunctions, and giving of evidence, similar to the powers of a court, thereby allowing the tribunal better management of the arbitral process and reducing opportunities for delay and injustice;
- the language of the arbitration need not be English;
- acceptance of communication by electronic transmission; and
- application of the IAA if the place of arbitration is Singapore.
Less new legislation
There has been little new legislation passed this year as the Singapore Parliament had relatively few sittings in 1997, and none in the first half of the year.