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KLRCA Talk Series – Arbitrability: The Limits of Arbitration
28 Nov 2014

KLRCA Talk Series returned in the month of November after a series of jointly organised seminars with international arbitral bodies the previous weeks. The Centre’s auditorium once again provided the backdrop for an intriguing weekday evening talk session as Chan Leng Sun, Senior Counsel took stage to present on, ‘Arbitrability: The Limits of Arbitration’. Leng Sun who is Baker & McKenzie’s Asia Pacific Head of International Arbitration brought to the session his years of experience in maritime-related work and broad commercial practice that covers international trade, insurance and company law.

Moderating the talk was Lam Wai Loon, a familiar face within the KLRCA circle who is known for his extensive role in the Centre’s adjudication training courses. With the auditorium filled – Leng Sun, Senior Counsel began proceedings for the evening by stating that the foundation of arbitration lies in the agreement of parties to arbitrate and that party autonomy is often invoked as a guiding principle. He further added, “There are instances where a dispute just cannot be decided by a private tribunal, whatever the parties say; as it is accepted that the validity of an arbitration agreement, and the enforceability of an arbitral award, are subject to the concept of arbitrability.”

Leng Sun provided examples of cases from countries within the region – elaborating to the audience that arbitrability is an evolving concept, the contents of which vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction that even changes over time. The attendees were also given a look into the constraints of arbitrating difficult subject matters, as Leng Sun touched on issues surrounding insolvencies, oppression of minority shareholders and trust disputes.

A question and answer session soon followed at the hour mark, with Wai Loon stepping in to address the audience before posing the first question to Leng Sun. This kick started an engaging and interactive thirty-minute session with questions coming in from all corners of the auditorium. Special interest was reserved towards a number of recently concluded cases and comparisons between the Singaporean and Malaysian arbitration frameworks.

Upon the speaker’s closing remarks, the evening talk soon drew to a close as both participants and presenters adjourned to the Centre’s new outdoor cafeteria to network and further exchange views on the limits of arbitration.