Singapore jumps to top as joint premier international arbitration centre
Singapore joins London at the top, Hong Kong secures the third position while Paris slips to the fourth spot
The Southeast Asian city-state Singapore has emerged as one of the most preferred centres for international arbitration. A recent survey of more than 1,200 in-house lawyers, arbitrators and practitioners has ranked it jointly along with London as the world's favourite arbitration centre.
Both London and Singapore were preferred by some 54 per cent of respondents to the 12th International Arbitration Survey, which was conducted by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and global law firm White & Case.
Singapore was ranked third in2018 survey and fourth in the 2015 survey. London somehow managed to retain its top slot, although it had to share the top honour. London witnessed a steep decline of 10 per cent compared to 64 per cent vote3s in 2015.
Hong Kong, which finished third behind London and Singapore, gave a tough fight and moved to the third spot with 50 per cent votes, recording a jump of 22 per cent from the last such survey conducted in 2018.
Paris which had stood at the second spot in 2018 had to face the ignominy of slipping down to the fourth position with just 36 per cent voting for it, recording a fall of 17 per cent votes.
While London losing some of its sheen as the preferred centre for international arbitration was expected after Brexit, the tumbling of Paris was unexpected considering it was felt that post-Brexit, London's loss would be the gain of Paris.
Its fall in popularity comes despite a heavy marketing campaign, including virtual arbitration events in both 2020 and 2021. The only solace for Paris came in the form of support for the ICC, a Paris-based arbitral institution, which topped the poll of preferred arbitral institutions, as it did in 2018 and 2015.
The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) also topped the poll for the most preferred Asian arbitral institution, second globally only to the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
Singapore witnessed a boost in its reputation as a hub for international disputes arbitration with a strong 2020 caseload figures. It marked a quantum jump of 125 per cent increase in case-filings to 1,080 and just shy of a five per cent increase in the value of sums under dispute, to $8.49 billion.
It is the first time that SIAC has passed the 1,000-caseload threshold, more than doubling the 479 cases filed in 2019 and representing a 169 per cent increase from the 402 new cases filed in 2018.
Charles Kimmins QC, a barrister at Twenty Essex, London, noted that the increased caseload in Singapore reflected a general increase in arbitration figures globally. The London Court of International Arbitration's (LCIA) and the ICC also witnessed record numbers of new cases in 2020.
SIAC's international reach – it has offices in China, India, South Korea, and New York -- was also reflected in its statistics; 94 per cent of new cases heard in 2020 were international. Wilmer Hale's Gary Born, president of SIAC's Court of Arbitrators, said the numbers would "spur us to work even harder… to fulfil our goal of being the leading choice of users all over the world".
Daniel Kalderimis, a barrister based at Twenty Essex in Singapore, hailed the survey findings as "a real staging post for Singapore, which is on the way to being recognised in the coming years as the world's leading international dispute resolution hub. This reflects Singapore's infrastructure, geography, international connectivity and legal stability."