Singapore: Ratified Hague Convention Makes Singapore International Commercial Court More Attractive

On 2 June 2016, Singapore ratified the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements. With the ratification, Singapore further bolsters its standing as an international dispute resolution hub, particularly because ratification also facilitates the recognition and enforcement of judgments issued by the newly launched Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC). The main issue with the SICC until now had been that – unlike international arbitral awards which are widely enforceable under the New York Convention – the enforcement of SICC judgments outside of Singapore was limited. SICC judgments have the status of a Singapore High Court judgment. This means that, in the absence of a reciprocal enforcement agreement with Singapore, enforcement of SICC judgments depends on the principles governing the recognition of foreign judgments in the relevant enforcement jurisdiction. This is now starting to change with Singapore's ratification of the Hague Convention.

Although the number of contracting states to the Hague Convention is still low and in stark contrast to the large number of states that have adopted the New York Convention, each additional ratification of the Hague Convention will further expand its applicability, thus making SICC judgments more widely enforceable. 

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention aims at ensuring the effectiveness of choice of court agreements (also known as forum selection clauses) between parties to international commercial transactions. Where parties have agreed to have their disputes resolved exclusively by the courts of a state that has ratified the Hague Convention, their choice of court will be respected, and any subsequent judgment will be readily enforceable in other contracting states. This provides more legal certainty to parties on where to litigate a dispute that arises under their international commercial contract. It also reduces the time and expense that courts and companies face when dealing with international jurisdictional issues and foreign judgment enforcements.

The Hague Convention applies (i) in international cases (ii) to exclusive choice of court agreements (iii) concluded in civil or commercial matters. For a choice of court agreement to be exclusive, parties must have designated the courts of one contracting state or one or more specific courts of one contracting state to the exclusion of the jurisdiction of any other courts. In addition, a contracting state may declare that it will recognise and enforce judgments given by courts designated in a non-exclusive choice of court agreement.

Certain matters are expressly excluded from the scope of the Hague Convention. It does not, for instance, apply to consumer and employment contracts, insolvency, the carriage of passengers and goods, anti-trust (competition), intellectual property rights. Nor does the Hague Convention apply to arbitration proceedings. Interim measures, such as the preservation of evidence or the seizure of assets, are also not governed by the Hague Convention. Contracting states have the right to exclude additional specific matters.

The Hague Convention sets out three basic rules that give effect to choice of court agreements:

  1. The courts of a contracting state designated in an exclusive choice of court agreement must not decline to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that the dispute should be decided in a court of another state.
  2. A court of a contracting state other than that of the chosen court must, subject to a limited number of exceptions, suspend or dismiss proceedings to which an exclusive choice of court agreement applies.
  3. Any judgment rendered by the chosen court must be recognised and enforced in other contracting states, except where a ground for refusal applies (Articles 8 and 9). Recognition or enforcement may, for instance, be refused where the judgment was obtained by fraud, or where recognition or enforcement would be "manifestly incompatible" with public policy.

The litigation counterpart to the New York Convention?

The Hague Convention has often been cited as the litigation counterpart to the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1958 (the New York Convention).  Like the New York Convention, the Hague Convention requires contracting states to recognise and enforce private party agreements regarding the forum for dispute resolution and decisions issued by the chosen forum in other contracting states, subject to certain limited exceptions. The Hague Convention, however, still has a long way to go before replicating the success of the New York Convention in international arbitration. With 156 countries being party to the New York Convention, international arbitration agreements and foreign arbitral awards in international cases are almost universally recognised and enforced. So far the Hague Convention has only entered into force in 28 countries (Singapore, Mexico, and the European Union member states except Denmark). Ample outreach to the world will be crucial for creating a global reciprocal enforcement regime similar to that established for arbitration by the New York Convention. Although the Hague Convention has the potential to become a worldwide legal basis for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, time will tell whether the Hague Convention can do for litigation what the New York Convention has achieved for arbitration.

Implications for Singapore

Singapore's ratification of the Hague Convention further enhances its status as a leading hub for international dispute resolution. Singapore has already positioned itself as the most preferred seat of arbitration in Asia and the third most preferred seat of arbitration in the world. This is evidenced by the exponential increase in the caseload of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) over recent years. The launch of two new dispute resolution centres, the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) in 2014 and the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) in 2015, further expanded the range of international dispute resolution services available in Singapore.

The SIMC provides commercial mediation services targeted at the needs of parties in cross-border commercial disputes, and offers a panel of high quality international mediators and experts. The SICC is a division of the Singapore High Court. It offers the option of a court-based dispute resolution mechanism focused on international and commercial disputes, even where the dispute has no connection with Singapore and is not governed by Singapore law. The SICC has the jurisdiction to hear and try an action if (i) the claim in the action is of an international and commercial nature; (ii) the parties to the action have submitted to the SICC's jurisdiction under a written jurisdiction agreement; and (iii) the parties do not seek any relief in the form of, or connected with, a prerogative order (including a mandatory order, prohibiting order, a quashing order or an order for review of detention). In addition to its jurisdiction to hear international commercial disputes, other key features of the SICC include a panel of international judges, the possibility of representation by foreign lawyers, the power to join third parties to the proceedings, exclusion or limitation of right of appeal (by agreement), establishment of foreign law by submissions from counsel, no obligation to apply any rule of evidence under Singapore law and may apply other rules of evidence, limited document production (similar to IBA Rules), and confidentiality.

The ratification of the Hague Convention enables a wider recognition and enforcement of judgments rendered by Singapore courts, including the SICC. Until recently, SICC judgments could only be enforced in those jurisdictions covered in the Reciprocal Enforcement of Commonwealth Judgments Act and the Reciprocal Enforcement of Commonwealth Judgments Act. Singapore's ratification of the Hague Convention increased this number of jurisdictions to every contracting state under the Hague Convention.

Netherlands Commercial Court

The Netherlands is also in the process of setting up a special judicial division to settle large national and international trade disputes: the Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC). This initiative responds to the need of large enterprises for fast, professional and efficient resolution of disputes. The NCC will further contribute to a positive business climate and strengthen the leading international position of the Dutch judiciary. The NCC is to open on 1 January 2017, assuming the government can timely pass legislation that facilitates proceedings in English. The government has announced that it will introduce this legislation by mid-2016. Considering that the Netherlands has also adopted the Hague Convention, the NCC has the potential of becoming an attractive forum for resolving international commercial disputes.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions