Singapore plans international commercial court

SINGAPORE - Singapore yesterday said it plans to launch an international commercial court that will aid in settling an increasing number of cross-border disputes as Asia's economies boom.

The Ministry of Law said in a statement that the proposed Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) will leverage on robust cross-border investment and trade in Asia, where gross domestic product is expected to triple over the current decade to US$34.9 trillion (S$43.8 trillion) in 2020.

It said the SICC will build on Singapore's reputation as a leading destination for international arbitration, which allows for disputes to be resolved by third-party arbitrators outside of court.

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre, set up in 1991, last year handled 235 disputes worth S$3.61 billion.

Law Minister K. Shanmugam said the court, which will be set up after public consultation and law changes in Parliament, will have top commercial lawyers from around the world acting as judges, along with Singaporean High Court justices.

With similar commercial courts in London and Dubai handling a growing number of global cases, "a window of opportunity currently exists for an Asian dispute-resolution hub catering to international disputes with an Asian connection", said a report of an international committee that looked into the feasibility of setting up the court.

The SICC will function as a division of Singapore's High Court, and its rulings can be upheld outside Singapore through reciprocal enforcement provisions between countries and the city-state.