Singapore to Become Southeast Asian Legal Hub with Opening of International Commercial Court
SINGAPORE – Whilst currently most European and American firms take transnational cases back to their firm’s central office, the newly opened Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) wants to become the alternative location for arbitration in Asia. If it succeeds, Singapore could both reduce this costly, and common, practice as well as spur growth in its saturated domestic legal industry.
On January 5th, the Attorney-General’s Chambers celebrated the opening of the SICC. Alongside a series of other investments into its legal services sector and the establishment of the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC), this institution is the keystone of Singapore’s campaign to become an international center for legal mediation.
This year, as Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence from Malaysia, the government has been working hard to promote the impressive international achievements of this city-state. As the fourth largest financial center in the world and with an historically êntrepot economy, Singapore is now looking to the international legal industry to inject new growth into the country.
Singapore is uniquely positioned to capture the international legal market. Since the 1980s, English has been the first-language of most Singaporeans and, as well as retaining a loosely British legal framework, Singapore has been ranked the 7th least corrupt nation in the world – ahead of America, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom.
Singapore’s new Attorney-General, Viljaya Kumar Rajah S.C. has stressed that, “In fifty years, Singapore has managed to create a legal environment that is, and should be, the envy of the emerging economies of the world.” As well as praising Singapore’s domestic strengths, he repeatedly emphasized Singapore’s status a “Legal Services Hub”. Indeed, established 20 years ago, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has been crucial in promoting international confidence in Singapore’s legal eco-system, which Rajah wishes to capitalize on.
There are already encouraging signs that Rajah’s hopes will come to fruition. The SICC should notably reduce the high legal costs of doing business in Asia and this potential has been recognized by the large number of law firms that travelled to Singapore for the new legal year in order to celebrate the opening of their new annexes.
If these firms commit to diverting international cases to their Singapore annexes, benefits will be felt amongst those in the legal trade and beyond, as well as reducing the legal costs for international companies in Asia and improving business conditions in the region.
Asia Briefing Ltd. is a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. Dezan Shira is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Singapore and the rest of ASEAN. For further information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.dezshira.com.
Stay up to date with the latest business and investment trends in Asia by subscribing to our complimentary update service featuring news, commentary and regulatory insight.
Tax, Accounting, and Audit in Vietnam 2014-2015
The first edition of Tax, Accounting, and Audit in Vietnam, published in 2014, offers a comprehensive overview of the major taxes foreign investors are likely to encounter when establishing or operating a business in Vietnam, as well as other tax-relevant obligations. This concise, detailed, yet pragmatic guide is ideal for CFOs, compliance officers and heads of accounting who need to be able to navigate the complex tax and accounting landscape in Vietnam in order to effectively manage and strategically plan their Vietnam operations.
An Introduction to Tax Treaties Throughout Asia
In this issue of Asia Briefing Magazine, we take a look at the various types of trade and tax treaties that exist between Asian nations. These include bilateral investment treaties, double tax treaties and free trade agreements – all of which directly affect businesses operating in Asia.
The 2014 Asia Tax Comparator
In this issue of Asia Briefing Magazine, we examine the different tax rates in 13 Asian jurisdictions – the 10 countries of ASEAN, plus China, India and Hong Kong. We examine the on-the-ground tax rates that each of these countries levy, including corporate income tax, individual income tax, indirect tax and withholding tax. We also examine residency triggers, as well as available tax incentives for the foreign investor and important compliance issues.