MoJ oversight costs London dear

No arbitration centre in the Rolls Building: Singapore picks up work

Did the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) miss a trick when it failed to install an arbitration centre in London’s £60m Rolls Building?

Many at the bar are concerned that by not doing so the MoJ has gifted foreign centres a competitive advantage. Competition for arbitration work is rife and the sums being fought over gigantic.

Maxwell Chambers in Singapore opened three years ago and is hugely popular with warring parties. So much so that five London sets have opened international offices there – Essex Court, 20 Essex Street and One Essex Court are among them.

Speaking last week as chair of the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC), Brian Lee, longstanding senior clerk at 20 Essex Street, highlighted the figures. 

“In 2008, 99 arbitrations were issued at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, last year that number was 235,” he said. “In 2012, 265 arbitrations were issued at the London Court of International Arbitration, so Singapore now compares very favourably with London.”

It may not be huge as a proportion of international litigation but Singapore is certainly making big strides. As
Lee told the IBC, without the Singaporean government promoting arbitration facilities a lot of the work flowing east would have been dealt with in London.

You can’t turn the clock back, but the MoJ must be wishing it could. The tax income generated by the barristers working on these cases would be a tidy sum; enough to cover the running costs of arbitration court at least.