Asian Legal Business: What are your predictions for 2019 for the Singapore legal market?
Bazul Ashhab: Singapore is already the forum of choice for many businesses in the Asia-Pacific region to resolve their commercial disputes. The Singapore government has done a tremendous job so far in promoting Singapore as an international arbitration hub and now a regional debt restructuring hub with its legislative changes. This will ensure that Singapore stays ahead of the global and regional legal developments. I am certain therefore that we will see a further increase in the debt restructuring work in Singapore in 2019.
With the recent agreement between the Singapore and Chinese Courts on reciprocal enforcement of commercial judgments, both Singapore and non-Singapore parties dealing with a Chinese party whose substantial assets are in China can now also choose to take their disputes to the Singapore Court and later enforce their money judgment in China. I foresee that this will lead to more such disputes being heard in the Singapore courts (including in the SICC).
The Singapore Mediation Convention, expected to be signed in August 2019, will also make it easier for businesses to enforce mediated settlement agreements with their cross-border counterparts. The convention will encourage businesses around the world to resolve their commercial disputes through mediation, as opposed to seeking arbitration or litigation. I believe that this convention will further raise Singapore’s standing in the world as a leading alternative dispute resolution hub.