International arbitration court launches in Singapore

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is setting up facilities in Singapore, creating the first international court in Asia.

The intergovernmental organisation signed an agreement with the Singapore government last Monday (10 September) that means PCA arbitrations for the region will no longer have to go to The Hague.

The PCA’s secretary general Tjaco van den Hout said the creation of facilities in Asia was a natural move as approximately 20 per cent of the court’s hearings last year were from the region.”[It is also a] response to a more general request from the membership of our organisation to conduct an outreach to the region,” said van den Hout. “We considered the choice of Singapore a natural one because it’s arbitration-friendly and, in itself, has a flourishing arbitration industry.”

Professor S Jayakumar, Singapore’s deputy prime minister and law minister, said the new court will be a purpose-built complex to cater specifically for arbitration activities.

Jayakumar said: “The establishment of the PCA’s Singapore facility is both positive and timely.”

The new court has been seen as a coup for Singapore as it pushes to make the country Asia’s mediation and arbitration hub, ahead of other jurisdictions such as Hong Kong.

The news follows on the heels of the PCA’s recent announcement that it had agreed to launch an arbitration court in South Africa to focus on pan-African arbitrations.

The PCA, which was established in 1899 to deal peacefully with disputes that arise between different countries, has also set up a court in Costa Rica for Latin American disputes.