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Singapore has a strong reputation as a leading regional hub that you can turn to when you need to resolve a commercial dispute in Asia.

How realistic is it to enforce a foreign court decision in Singapore? This question is often asked by entrepreneurs who intend to initiate arbitration in the SICC International Court of this jurisdiction. Can such a decision be disputed? Our blog post is devoted to the answers to these questions.

Legal framework

For those planning to initiate arbitration in Singapore, it is helpful to know that the country is a party to the New York and Singapore conventions.

Almost any commercial dispute can be resolved here with the help of arbitration in Singapore, and if you intend to do it in the near future, it will be useful to first familiarize yourself with the list of cases that are not arbitrable:

  1. Citizenship;
  2. Granting state licenses;
  3. Company bankruptcy and liquidation;
  4. Management of estates.

A dispute on IP rights infringement can be resolved by arbitration in Singapore in accordance with the amendments to the legislation. Previously, such disputes were considered non-arbitrable.

Awards enforcement 

Any inaccuracies in the text of the agreement on referral of the dispute to international commercial arbitration and/or doubts about the validity and feasibility the court must interpret in favor of its validity and feasibility. These pro-arbitration provisions of the Singapore procedural codes contribute to the elimination of a purely formal approach that existed earlier when assessing arbitration agreements.

There were many examples when the agreement erroneously indicated the details or spelling errors were made in the spelling of the name of the party to the contract, etc. Unfortunately, this became the ground for finding the arbitration agreement invalid. 

It is possible to make corrections to the arbitral award in Singapore. All you need to do is to submit an application no later than one month from the date of its announcement. 

Compulsory execution

An effective mechanism for enforcing a decision exists. If we are talking about debt recovery, then it would be advisable for you to hire a qualified solicitor who will file a claim against the debtor in the Singapore Arbitration Court on behalf of your company, where the amount that the foreign court ordered the defendant to pay to your company will appear as a debt. In most cases, in such disputes, it is possible to ask the court for a summary judgment, in which a Singapore court will accept a foreign court's decision as evidence without revising the legality of such a decision. After that, you will be able to obtain a court decision in Singapore and, accordingly, enforce it in this jurisdiction. Your lawyer will provide you with more detailed information about what will be needed in your particular case and the specific time frame. By the way, our company's solicitors are ready to provide such services.

In recent years, Singaporean courts have acquired a pro-arbitration reputation and generally advocate enforcement of verdicts unless there is a compelling reason to refuse. The award will not be canceled if challenging it contradicts the procedural orders of the court.

In the process of resolving an international conflict through arbitration in Singapore, the execution of foreign decisions may be refused if they were canceled/suspended by the regulator of the country where they were made.

Interim measures against assets

Courts in this jurisdiction have broad powers to order injunctive relief on assets, both in the settlement of an arbitration dispute in Singapore and abroad. These measures include:

  1. Temporary storage or sale of any property that is or forms part of the subject of the dispute:
    1. samples to be withdrawn;
    2. any observations made in relation to property that is or forms part of the subject of the dispute.
  2. Temporary storage of evidence for the purposes of court proceedings:
    1. securing the amount of the dispute;
    2. temporary injunction.

Final word

An essential component of the effectiveness of international commercial arbitration, which does not depend on it in principle, is the arbitration legislation and the policy of the courts in relation to arbitral awards. The presumption of the validity of the arbitration agreement deserves special attention. Singapore in this respect is one of the best options for business dispute resolution.

Need advice on the international arbitration in Singapore? Please contact the IQ Decision UK team.