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Adeline Chong

Reform of Singapore’s Foreign Judgment Rules

On 3rd October, the amendments to the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (“REFJA”) came into force. REFJA is based on the UK Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933, but in this recent round of amendments has deviated in some significant ways from the 1933 Act. The limitation to judgments from “superior courts” has been removed. Foreign interlocutory orders such as freezing orders and foreign non-money judgments now fall within the scope of REFJA. So too do judicial settlements, which are defined in identical terms to the definition contained in the Choice of Court Agreements Act 2016 (which enacted the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements into Singapore law).

This book is published as part of Hart’s Studies in Private International Law- Asia series. It is edited by Anselmo Reyes who is a Guest Professor at the Law Faculty of Doshisha University  and an International Judge of the Singapore International Commercial Court.

The publisher’s blurb is as follows:

“This collection offers a study of the regimes for the recognition and enforcement of foreign commercial judgments in 15 Asian jurisdictions: mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. For practising lawyers, the book is intended as a practical guide to current law and procedures for enforcing judgments in the selected jurisdictions. However, it does not stop at describing current law and practice. Of interest to academics and students, it also analyses the common principles of the enforcement regimes across the jurisdictions, and identifies what should be regarded as the norm for enforcement in Asian countries for the purpose of attracting foreign direct investment and catalysing rapid economic development.

Singapore Convention on Mediation

Forty-six countries have signed up to the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (“Singapore Convention on Mediation”) today. The signatory countries included Singapore, China, India, South Korea and the USA. The Convention, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2018, facilitates the cross-border enforcement of international commercial settlement agreements reached through mediation. It complements existing international dispute resolution enforcement frameworks in arbitration (the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards) and litigation (the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements and the recently concluded Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters).  Article 1(3) of the Singapore Convention carves out settlement agreements which may fall within the scope of these other instruments to avoid an overlap. The Convention does not prescribe the mode of enforcement, but leaves it to each Contracting State to do so “in accordance with its rules of procedure and under the conditions laid down in this Convention” (Article 3(1)). Formal requirements to evidence the settlement agreement are specified although the competent authority in the state of enforcement is also granted flexibility to accept any other evidence acceptable to it (Article 4). The settlement agreement may only be refused enforcement under one of the grounds listed in Article 5. These grounds include the incapacity of a party to the settlement agreement, the settlement agreement is null and void under its applicable law and breaches of mediation standards. Only two reservations are permitted: one relating to settlement agreements to which a government entity is a party and the other relating to opt-in agreements whereby the Convention applies only to the extent that the parties to the settlement agreement have agreed to the application of the Convention (Article 8).

Professor Yeo Tiong Min, SC (honoris causa), Yong Pung How Professor of Law at Singapore Management University, has kindly provided the following report:

“The Singapore Court of Appeal has recently affirmed the significance of giving effect to party autonomy in the enforcement of choice of court agreements under the common law in three important decisions handed down in quick succession, on different aspects of the matter: the legal effect of exclusive choice of court agreements, the interpretation and effect of non-exclusive choice of court agreements, and the effect of exclusive choice of court agreements on anti-suit injunctions.

IM Skaugen SE v MAN Diesel & Turbo SE [2018] SGHC 123

In IM Skaugen SE v MAN Diesel & Turbo SE [2018] SGHC 123, the Singapore High Court had the occasion to discuss and resolve various meaty private international law issues. The facts concerned the alleged negligent or fraudulent misrepresentation by the defendants on the fuel consumption of a specific model of engine that was sold and installed into ships owned by the plaintiffs. The issue before the court was whether the Singapore courts had jurisdiction over the misrepresentation claim. The defendants were German and Norwegian incorporated companies so the plaintiffs applied for leave to serve the writ out of Singapore. This entailed fulfilling a 3 stage process, following English common law rules: (1) a good arguable case that the case falls within one of the heads set out in the Rules of Court, Order 11, (2) a serious issue to be tried on the merits, and (3) Singapore is forum conveniens on applying the test set out in The Spiliada [1987] AC 460. Stages (1) and (3) were at issue in the case.

New online service on International Arbitration

The publisher’s blurb is as follows:

“The Chinese perspective on The South China Sea Arbitration, is just one of the 40+ texts searchable on the new online service, International Arbitration.

The service is made up of content from three respected publishing brands (Hart Publishing, CH Beck-Nomos and Bloomsbury Professional). It provides access to materials by over 60 respected author names with the speed and convenience of online research.

International coverage in depth and breadth

The content covers a broad range of jurisdictions from arbitration centres all over the world including:

  • China
  • New York
  • Switzerland
  • Germany
  • The Middle East

Expert authors and contributors

Authors and contributors are drawn from leading firms and academic institutions, including:

Mareva injunctions under Singapore law

Whether the Singapore court has the jurisdiction or power to grant a Mareva injunction in aid of foreign court proceedings was recently considered by the Singapore High Court in PT Gunung Madu Plantations v Muhammad Jimmy Goh Mashun [2018] SGHC 64. Both plaintiff and defendant were Indonesian and the claim related to alleged breaches of duties which the defendant owed to the plaintiff. The plaintiff had obtained leave to serve the writ in Indonesia on the defendant. The defendant thereupon applied, inter alia, to set aside service of the writ and for a declaration that the court has no jurisdiction over him. In response, the plaintiff applied for a Mareva injunction against the defendant in respect of the defendant’s assets in Singapore. The plaintiff had, after the Singapore action was filed, commenced actions in Malaysia and Indonesia covering much the same allegations against the defendant.

China's One Belt One Road Initiative and Private International Law (Hardback) book cover

A new book considering the private international law aspects of China’s One Belt One Road Initiative will be out in early June. The publisher’s blurb is below.

China’s One Belt One Road Initiative and Private International Law will soon be released by Routledge. It is available for pre-ordering now at

Edited by Dr Poomintr Sooksripaisarnkit, of the Australian Maritime College, University of Tasmania, and Dr Sai Ramani Garimella, of the South Asian University, the book explores possible challenges to the success of the OBOR arising from the situational interface of diversity of laws, with the focus primarily on issues associated with private international law. It shows the latest state of knowledge on the topic and will be of interest to researchers, academics, policymakers, and students interested in private international law issues pertaining to the OBOR routes as well as private international law in general, Asian studies, and politics of international trade.

A compendium of country reports on the law on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea has been published by the Asian Business Law Institute, a research institute based in Singapore. The list of contributors reads as follows:

  1. Professor Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan of the University of the Philippines;
  2. Dr Andrew Bell, SC of Eleven Wentworth Chambers, Australia;
  3. Dr Bich Du Ngoc of Ho Chi Minh City Open University;
  4. Mr Youdy Bun of Bun & Associates, Cambodia;
  5. Xaynari Chanthala and Mr. Kongphanh Santivong of LS Horizon (Lao) Limited;
  6. Associate Professor Adeline Chong of Singapore Management University;
  7. Professor Choong Yeow Choy of the University of Malaya;