This article discusses, in the context of the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC), issues relating to the recognition and
enforcement of judgments. The focus is on three areas. First, the article examines the enforceability of SICC’s fi nal judgments. The
utility of hybrid dispute resolution clauses is discussed in light of the innovative Practice Direction No 2 of the Dubai International
Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts. Second,the article examines diffi culties in the enforcement of worldwide freezing orders made by
the SICC and suggests that there may be no easy solution to the cross-border enforcement of such orders. A similar conundrum is
faced by the SICC on the fi nal issue considered, the recognition and enforcement of interlocutory or fi nal judgments made by the
SICC against third parties. The author suggests in conclusion that the best solutions to the problems explored may lie in exploring
synergies between different modes of dispute resolution.
This article looks into potential diffi culties in the recognition and enforcement of judgments of the Singapore International
Commercial Court (SICC). From time to time, by way of comparison, the article will refer to the practice of the Dubai International
Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts and the English Commercial Court. The underlying assumption of this article is that problems
identifi ed in the SICC context will apply in similar fashion to the recognition and enforcement of the judgments of international
commercial courts generally.
The expression “international commercial court” is not a term of art. Here the expression is used to describe a court (such as the
SICC) with jurisdiction to hear commercial disputes having little or no connection with the state in which the court is situate, apart
from the fact that the court has been designated by contracting parties as the forum in which disputes are to be brought. In the case
of the DIFC Courts, their jurisdiction was initially exercisable over cases involving a DIFC incorporated or registered company or
involving events occurring within the DIFC. Since 2011 the DIFC Courts have had jurisdiction to deal with cases in which they
have been designated by the parties to an agreement as the forum for resolving their disputes. Those disputes may have little or
nothing to do with Dubai or the DIFC.
Most common law courts (including the SICC and the DIFC Courts) would be prepared to exercise jurisdiction over a dispute on the
basis of an exclusive jurisdiction clause. But, in most common law courts (including the English Commercial Court), the exercise of
such jurisdiction would be subject to the doctrine of forum non-conveniens articulated by Brandon LJ in The El Amria.1 In contrast,
the SICC and the DIFC Courts have in effect dispensed with the doctrine of forum non-conveniens.
All courts are concerned with the enforceability of their judgments across borders. With international commercial courts, the
problem of enforcement is more acute, since the parties before such courts may have little or no presence and few (if any) assets
within the state where the courts are located. The doctrine of forum non-conveniens cannot be invoked to reject jurisdiction as
inappropriate and send the parties to some other place where a defendant may have a more substantial presence. International
commercial courts are consequently most likely to be favoured where contracting parties are from different jurisdictions and wish to
designate some neutral, but credible, third jurisdiction for the resolution of disputes arising out of a commercial transaction.
For the purpose of discussion, the article will consider the enforcement of three different types of judgment: (1) fi nal judgments; (2)
interlocutory judgments imposing worldwide freezing orders and (3) interlocutory or fi nal judgments against persons not party to a
choice of court agreement conferring jurisdiction on the SICC.