London, Geneva, Paris, Singapore, and New York have historically been some of the global hubs of international arbitration. An empirical survey conducted in 2010 listed the preferred seats of arbitration: London is the most preferred (30%), followed by Geneva (9%), Paris, Tokyo, and Singapore (each 7%), and New York (6%). Singapore is increasingly asserting its position as the Asian capital of arbitration. One of the explanations for the success of the city-state lies in its capacity to reform the legal system so as to keep it in line with best practices. Over the last years the Singaporean government has been particularly reactive to legal developments in the field of international arbitration, emphatically promoting Singapore as an international arbitration centre by showing a clear disposition to amend its laws whenever necessary. The city-state built a privileged reputation throughout the arbitration community for its capacity to update and improve arbitration legislation within a matter of months. Singapore’s Minister for Law, K. Shanmugam, said in a public speech in June 2012: ‘There is the willpower of the government, the desire to make a change and create the right legislative framework. So, we took the approach of consulting the industry, putting in whatever changes which were necessary, and in Singapore, if we come across a problem, if the industry says this needs to be changed, we can change it legislatively within a matter of six to seven months, and we have done it several times’.
In this interesting piece Channel NewsAsia explains how Singapore became an arbitration hub, offering useful lessons for other jurisdictions interested in entering the so-called ‘Battle of the seats’.