On 1 December 2021, the Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration announced the introduction of the fourth edition of its Arbitration Rules ("SCMA Rules 4th Ed").
The SCMA Rules 4th Ed will apply to all arbitrations commenced on or after 1 January 2022. They can be accessed in full here.
- Electronic service (Rule 3.1) - Notices or communications can now be served via email.
- Change in representation subject to tribunal's approval (Rule 4.4) - Any change by a party of its authorised representatives after constitution of the tribunal will now be subject to the tribunal's approval. The tribunal may only withhold its approval if it is satisfied that there is substantial risk that such change may prejudice the conduct of the proceedings or the enforceability of any award.
- Arbitration proceedings without a third arbitrator (Rule 8.4) - When parties have agreed that the tribunal shall consist of three arbitrators, the arbitration can proceed for the time being once two arbitrators have been appointed. The third arbitrator can be appointed at any time thereafter as long as it is done before the substantive hearing (if any) or if there is a matter that the two arbitrators cannot agree on.
- Virtual case management meetings (Rule 17.1) - Tribunals are now expressly allowed to decide whether case management meetings can be held via videoconference, in addition to the usual modes of physical meetings or by telephone.
- Oral hearing can be dispensed with by the tribunal (Rule 25.1) - The tribunal now has the discretion to decide if there is an oral hearing or if the arbitration is to proceed on a documents-only basis. However, a hearing will still be held if any party requests one.
- Closure of Proceedings (Rule 27.1) - Proceedings will be deemed closed after three months from the date of any final written submissions or final hearing, unless the parties agree, or the tribunal directs otherwise.
- Increase in claim limit for Expedited Procedure (Rule 44.1) - The Expedited Procedure now applies to any dispute where the aggregate amount of the claim and counterclaim (if any) is no more than US$300,000 (excluding interests and costs). This replaces the Small Claims Procedure under the previous edition of the Rules, which provided for a limit of US$150,000.
The nature of these changes brings the SCMA in line with the recent trend of parties conducting their business remotely and will allow parties to proceed with their arbitrations in a more timely and cost-efficient manner.
Mishcon de Reya LLP, Singapore branch is licensed in Singapore as a Foreign Law Practice and only undertakes Singapore law related work in those areas permitted by its license.