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Importance of Pleadings in Arbitration Affirmed by Singapore Court of Appeal

Pleadings in Arbitration

Court of Appeal of Singapore cases outline the significance of pleadings in arbitration

The latest case of PhoenixFin Pte Ltd. and others v. Convexity Ltd. is the culmination of a series of Court of Appeal of Singapore cases setting out the significance of pleadings in arbitration. The court held that pleadings in arbitration are important especially when an issue is of mixed fact and law and can be the basis for a finding of breach of natural justice warranting the setting aside of the arbitral award. This is notwithstanding the common belief that there is an amount of flexibility in the approach to pleadings in arbitration such that pleadings may take the back seat in arbitration proceedings.

Background

The series of instructive cases begin with the case of CDM and another v. CDP (CDM).[1] There, the Court of Appeal of Singapore (SGCA) identified five factors that have to be considered in determining whether a matter was within the scope of parties’ submission to arbitration: the parties’ pleadings, agreed list of issues, opening statements, evidence adduced, and closing submissions at the arbitration.

This was then developed in CAJ and another v. CAI and another appeal (CAI)[3] where the SGCA held that the arbitral tribunal’s ruling on an unpleaded defence, which was fact-sensitive and did not feature anywhere in the arbitration except in the appellants’ written closing submissions, was outside the scope of jurisdiction and in breach of natural justice.[4]

These cases culminated in PhoenixFin Pte Ltd. and others v. Convexity Ltd (Convexity).[5] where the SGCA affirmed the setting aside of an arbitral award that was based on an unpleaded issue, although the tribunal had, prior to the issuance of the award, ostensibly given parties an opportunity to address it on the unpleaded point. read more

Source: Daniel Chia, Yanguang Ker, Jeanette Wong | Morgan Lewis

Litigation Edge Singapore