Arbitration at the SIAC – The Proceedings I
“A fair trial is one in which the rules of evidence are honoured, the accused has competent counsel, and the judge enforces the proper courtroom procedures – a trial in which every assumption can be challenged.” – Harry Browne
Rules 19 to 25 – The Proceedings
The phenomenal growth of arbitration in Singapore, and indeed the world over, can be partially attributed to the flexibility it awards the tribunal in conducting the arbitration. In the right hands, the power properly exercised, an arbitration can be fair, economical and expeditious.
Rule 19 – Conduct of the Proceedings
Once constituted and at any time during the proceedings that the Tribunal sees fit, the Tribunal should arrange a meeting with the parties. This meeting will centre around deciding on the manner in which the arbitration can be conducted and the procedures which will be most efficient and appropriate for the matter at hand. The Tribunal does not need to apply rules of evidence in determining the “relevance, materiality and admissibility” of the evidence placed before them. Just like proceedings in Court, it should be noted that if a party supplies information, statements or documents to the Tribunal, the said party is obliged to supply the same to the other party.
Rule 20 – Submissions by Parties
The Claimant is required to, within time stipulated by the Tribunal, send to the Tribunal and Respondent a Statement of Claim with full particulars: a. A statement of facts to support the claim; b. the legal grounds/ arguments which support the claim; and c. The relief being claimed as well as the amount of the claim(s) which can be quantified. Unless already submitted, the Respondent is required to, within time stipulated by the Tribunal, send to the Tribunal and Claimant a Statement of Defence withju full particulars: a. A statement of facts to support the defence to the claim; b. the legal grounds/ arguments which support the defence; and c. The relief being claimed. A Counterclaim, if any, has to be dispatched in compliance to the same as the above. Amendments are allowed, subject to the Tribunal’s consideration of any delay or prejudice to the other party. It should be noted that all submissions made under this Rule must be made together with accompanying copies of all supporting documents unless these have already been submitted by the other party. Failure of either party to submit their submissions in the time stipulated by the Tribunal leaves the Tribunal with the discretion to terminate the arbitral proceedings (in case of failure by the Claimant to submit the Statement of Claim) and where the failure is on the part of the Respondent in respect of the submission of the Statement of Defence, the Tribunal may choose to proceed with the arbitration nonetheless.
Rule 21 – Seat of the Arbitration
The seat of the arbitration is simply the place where the arbitration is to be held. If parties cannot agree on the seat of arbitration, the Tribunal will determine the seat.
Rule 22 – Language of the Arbitration
As with the seat of the arbitration, if parties cannot agree on the language of arbitration, the Tribunal will determine the language. Any document other than in the language of the arbitration is to be translated to the language of the arbitration.
Rule 23 – Party Representatives
A party need not be represented by lawyers at an arbitration. The only requirement for the representative is that the representative is an “authorised representative”. Proof of such authority can be demanded by the Tribunal and/ or the Registrar.
Rule 24 – Hearings
Some arbitrations are suitable for a documents-only arbitration. However, this has to be agreed to by both parties. If even one party asks that a hearing be held or if the Tribunal so decides, then a hearing shall be held wherein you will have the usual oral submissions, presentation of evidence etc. The Tribunal will, once it has consulted with the parties, schedule the meeting/ hearing. If a party fails to turn up, the Tribunal is at liberty to make the Award based on the material before it; the evidence and submissions. The confidentiality of the arbitration is protected. Unless all parties agree, all hearings and meetings will be in private. The same goes for recordings, documents or transcripts which are also to remain confidential.
Rule 24 – Witnesses
As with proceedings in Court, parties are required to give ample notice before any hearing of the identity of witnesses (expert witnesses included), whom the parties intend to rely on. The Tribunal is given wide discretion when it comes to witnesses, determining who is allowed to give oral evidence at the hearing(s), the manner in which the witness may be questioned. The Tribunal can also direct the manner in which the testimony is given; written, oral etc. Unlike proceedings in Court, it should be noted that parties and/ or their representatives are actually allowed to interview a witness or potential witness before his appearance at any hearing.
* From the SIAC Rules, 6th Edition
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