Photo courtesy of Ministry of Law, Singapore

The Permanent Court of Arbitration’s (PCA) recent announcement to set up an office of operations in Singapore was a simple matter of supply and demand, according to a legal counsel for the court.

When asked why the court chose Singapore over other Asian centres like Hong Kong, Ashwita Ambast, assistant legal counsel to the PCA, said the court “was invited to do so by the Singaporean government, given the rising number of PCA cases being administered in Singapore”.

“A permanent PCA staff presence in Singapore will make PCA services more readily accessible,” Ambast added. “Regarding Hong Kong, although there is no permanent staff presence, the PCA has entered into a host country agreement with China, which allows PCA staff to perform functions in Hong Kong under similar conditions to those guaranteed under the PCA’s Headquarters Agreement with the Netherlands.

“So far the PCA has used the facilities of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) pursuant to a PCA-HKIAC cooperation agreement signed in 2010.”

Ambast said past PCA cases administered in Singapore had involved parties from a wide variety of jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific region. “The PCA Singapore office will service business coming from the Asia Pacific region, but also more generally, from the rest of the world,” she said.

The PCA office will be built within six months, located at Maxwell Chambers, alongside other international dispute resolution institutions such as the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) and the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Court).

At the outset, the PCA Singapore office will be staffed with one legal counsel, who will receive support from the PCA International Bureau in The Hague and administrative assistance for hearings from the staff of Maxwell Chambers, where PCA hearings and meetings will be held. The PCA staff will grow in accordance with PCA activity.