Soon to be
Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA) new Rules to apply from 1 January 2022
Singapore continues to be one of the major centres of arbitration in the world. From 1 January 2022, all arbitrations commenced pursuant to the rules of the Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA) will apply the 4th edition of the SCMA Arbitration Rules. The Rules were last amended in 2015.
Prior to the launch of the latest Rules, the SCMA held public consultations and sought feedback from the shipping industry and its various stakeholders. We are pleased to report that the Standard Club actively participated in the consultation process which ultimately led to the 4th edition Rules.
The feedback gathered underwent thorough review and discussions at the different levels within SCMA with the aim of ensuring that the Rules remain user-friendly, cost-effective, efficient and, as a far as possible, espouse a fuss-free approach to the resolution of disputes by arbitration.
Some of the key amendments introduced by the new Rules are as follows:
- Keeping up with the way that business is increasingly conducted by electronic and digital means, the new Rules allow for service of documents by electronic mailing. Also included are provisions to allow the signing of awards electronically. The Rules also provide that hearings and case management conferences, if held, may be conducted virtually.
- It is now enshrined in the Rules that two arbitrators may proceed with the conduct of an arbitration and the third arbitrator may be appointed just before the oral evidential hearing, if one is in fact held. In the case of documents-only arbitrations, two arbitrators may conduct the arbitration and proceed to an award without the appointment of a third arbitrator.
- Oral hearings are no longer mandatory. The discretion to hold a hearing lies with the Tribunal, save that a hearing shall be held if a party requests for one.
- To prevent an abuse of process by late change of representatives in arbitration, the Tribunal is now empowered to withhold its approval to such change where the conduct of proceedings or the enforceability of any award might be prejudiced.
- Arbitration proceedings will be deemed to be closed after the lapse of three months from the date of any final written submissions or final hearing. This provides for greater certainty in respect of the length of the arbitral process.
- An Expedited Procedure with a threshold of US$300,000 in the new Rules replaces the previous Small Claims Procedure that had a threshold of US$150,000. The Expedited Procedure is meant to be a quick and cost-effective method to resolve disputes using a sole arbitrator, with the issuance of an award within 21 days from receipt of the final statements of case or close of any oral hearing.
- To ensure greater certainty and transparency in the appointment of arbitrators, the newly introduced SCMA Standard Terms of Appointment now apply to all SCMA arbitrations by default, unless otherwise agreed. These deal with issues such as the independence and impartiality of arbitrators.
Details may be found below.