Arbitration in the age of covid

Arbitration in the age of covid

10 September 2020

A panel at GAR Interactive: Singapore highlighted the impact of covid-19 on commercial and investment arbitration and the challenges of virtual hearings, also asking whether it might lead parties to rethink their choice of arbitral seat.

Selling the whole package: Singapore law as governing law?

Selling the whole package: Singapore law as governing law?

17 September 2020

A panel at GAR Interactive: Singapore asked if Singapore law could be a credible alternative to English law as a governing law for international commercial contracts – and if that would require incorporating aspects of civil law to attract users from neighbouring countries.


Chiann Bao

Arbitration Chambers

With almost 20 years of experience working in Hong Kong, New York and London, Chiann Bao practises exclusively as an arbitrator and mediator and is a member of Arbitration Chambers. She is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a CEDR-accredited mediator. Chiann currently serves as a vice president of the ICC Court of Arbitration and is the chair of the ICC Commission task force on arbitration and ADR. She is also a member of the ICC Belt and Road Initiative Commission.  From 2010 to 2016 she served as the secretary general of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre where she managed hundreds of arbitrations before tribunals in Asia. In 2019, Chiann was appointed an honorary senior fellow of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. Who's Who Legal describes her as a "meticulous, smart, well-prepared and efficient arbitrator," as well as "very knowledgeable, diligent and a real diplomat."  Chambers Asia Pacific ranked her as one of the most highly regarded individuals in her category and has identified her as “one of the superstars in Asian arbitration."

Simon Dunbar

King & Spalding

Simon Dunbar is a partner in King & Spalding’s International Arbitration practice.  With approximately 15 years of practice, Simon has been based in Singapore for more than 13 years, and his work spans the Asia-Pacific region.  He has represented clients in international arbitrations under most of the major institutional rules, focusing on energy, infrastructure and joint venture disputes with a connection to Asia.

Simon is admitted to practice in England & Wales and New York, and has been granted rights of audience before the Singapore International Commercial Court (as a registered foreign lawyer).  Among other accolades, Simon has been recognised in the legal directories as “an unbelievably good lawyer”, and “a formidable advocate”, whom “clients singl[e] out as being ‘very accommodating and responsive.’”


Nadja Alexander

Singapore International Dispute Resolution Academy

Gary Bell

National University of Singapore

Leilah Bruton

Three Crowns

James Claxton

Arbitrator and Mediator

Kabir Duggal

Arnold & Porter

Jane Davies Evans

3 Verulam Buildings

Judith Gill QC

Twenty Essex

Bernard Hanotiau

Hanotiau & van den Berg

Philip Jeyaretnam, SC

Dentons Rodyk

Sapna Jhangiani QC

Clyde & Co

Amanda Lees

Simmons & Simmons

Smitha Menon


Chié Nakahara

Nishimura & Asahi

Kevin Nash

Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC)

Louie Ogsimer

Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & de los Angeles

Kevin O'Neal


Shaneen Parikh

Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas

Mahesh Rai

Drew & Napier

John Rainbird

Allen & Overy

Barry Stimpson

Squire Patton Boggs

Angeline Welsh

Essex Court

Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab

Zulficar & Partners

Sarah Thomas

Morrison & Foerster

Alexei Dudko

Hogan Lovells


14:50 -15:00: Log in and Chairs’ opening remarks

Simon Dunbar, King & Spalding
Chiann Bao, Arbitration Chambers

15:00-15:40: Singaporean law as governing law: a new era for Singaporean practice?

English law governs a great many international commercial contracts and selling “the package” - English governing law plus London seat – has worked well for London’s international arbitration business. Should Singapore seek to replicate that combo by establishing Singaporean common law as a credible alternate governing law? 

The panel are expected to explore:

  • Is this strategy feasible and if it is what would the ramifications be for Singapore and its legal market?
  • How could Singapore adapt, update and improve current English law, so as to pose serious competition?
  • How might aspects of civil law be incorporated, and how beneficial would this be to the proposition?

Sapna Jhangiani QC, Clyde & Co 


Gary Bell, National University of Singapore
Bernard Hanotiau, Hanotiau & van den Berg
Smitha Menon, WongPartnership
Sarah Thomas, Morrison & Foerster

15:40 – 16:25: The GAR Live Question Time on investor-state mediation, and enforcement

This session provides an opportunity for the audience to pose questions directly to an esteemed panel of arbitrators, advocates and clients. Questions can be on any of the burning issues of the day but a portion of the time will be devoted to two topics: investor state mediation and the challenging/enforcing awards.

The panel are expected to explore:

  • Mediation within investor-state arbitrations: experiences, successes and shortcomings,
  • Mediation advocacy vs arbitration advocacy: how different are they?
  • The rise in challenges to awards and what to do about it
  • How do clients and practitioners outside Singapore approach international arbitration and what effect does this have on enforcement
  • Have we got the balance right in Singapore when it comes to enforcing awards?

Nadja Alexander, Singapore International Dispute Resolution Academy


James Claxton, Arbitrator and Mediator
Shaneen Parikh, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas
Kevin O’Neal, Chevron
Leilah Bruton, Three Crowns
Jane Davies Evans, 3 Verulam Buildings

16.25-16:35: Break 

16:35-17:20: The GAR Live debate: This house believes that the SIAC rules should provide parties with the opportunity to appeal on a point of law

In Oxford Union style, we will hear teams of debaters argue in favour of, or against, a motion in a lively back-and-forth. The audience will play a part in the decision through a live vote and will be encouraged to grill the panellists with further questions. Judges will also voice their opinions on what has been heard, before choosing which side to support and giving reasons for their decisions.

Philip Jeyaretnam SC, Dentons Rodyk
Judith Gill QC, Twenty Essex
Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab, Zulficar & Partners

Mahesh Rai, Drew & Napier
Amanda Lees, Simmons & Simmons
Angeline Welsh, Essex Court
John Rainbird, Allen & Overy

17:20-18:00: Determining the ‘new normal’

The covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and work. How revolutionary will it be for international arbitration? How many of the adaptations it has enforced will remain part of the day to day?

This session will explore the future and what it will look like.

This panel will discuss:

  • How arbitration practitioners are using technology to travel less
  • The degree to which clients have abandoned arbitration in favour of mediation
  • The impact on particular industries – construction, energy and what that looks like through a disputes-lens
  • The challenge of preparing a case in the virtual world
  • Thorny procedural questions – what are the toughest and what solutions have been found
  • How has covid-19 changed the selection of seats? Has it changed the very notion of ‘seat’, and the criteria that matter?
  • How supportive are courts being of virtual arbitration and virtual hearings?
  • How has covid-19 changed the selection of arbitrators?


Kevin Nash, Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC)


Kabir Duggal, Arnold & Porter
Chié Nakahara, Nishimura & Asahi
Louie Ogsimer, Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & de los Angeles
Barry Stimpson, Squire Patton Boggs

18.00: Chairs’ closing remarks 


Further Information

For further information or sponsorship opportunities, please call +44 203 780 4137 or email


Type Price
Tier 1 £100 
Tier 2 £300


Type Price
Standard £0