Davinder Singh SC is well known in the field of dispute resolution where he is described as “an exceptional mind” as well as “extremely intelligent and strategic”.
Davinder is the Executive Chairman of Davinder Singh Chambers LLC. Davinder’s experience spans four decades. He has handled cases in almost every area of the law, including landmark cases. He is widely considered as Singapore’s most revered advocate and counsel of choice. He has an active international arbitration practice involving complex commercial disputes, international clients and multiple jurisdictions. He has acted in numerous institutional and ad hoc arbitrations.
How would you describe your leadership style? How can younger practitioners develop leadership qualities to succeed in the arbitration market?
I try to set examples. I get involved from the very start of every case, and try to review and clear all the papers and correspondence. I then work with the team on the preparation for the hearing and discuss legal and strategic issues as I try to involve them in all aspects of a case. While they must develop their own styles, I hope that this will let them see that this is one way to do things when they lead their own teams and cases.
With over four decades of experience and expertise in the disputes space, how do you stay on the cutting edge of the practice?
It is about keeping pace with an ever faster treadmill. It is also about learning from others, including the young lawyers who have very interesting and useful ideas. It is also important to resist the temptation to cut corners.
Which disputes do you increasingly see going to arbitration, and why might this be the case?
The face of arbitration is ever changing. Disputes relating to new and emerging technologies, currencies, modalities of commercial life now find their way to arbitration. This is due to the fact that there is growing confidence that international arbitration centres are well equipped to administer such disputes and that there are experts out there who understand these issues and make great arbitrators.
What do you think are the greatest challenges currently facing arbitration specialists, and how can they be effectively overcome?
One major challenge is to give younger lawyers the opportunity to run cases on their own or sit as arbitrators. The pool of highly talented aspirants grows with each year but they don’t all have the opportunity to lead, argue or sit as arbitrators. There are many reasons for this. Clients want certain lawyers to run their cases. Arbitrators are selected based on their experience and expertise. They will have to be overcome with small steps like involving the lawyers in some parts of a case or having young lawyers be tribunal secretaries. It will take time.
Practitioners in developed arbitration centres report an increase in arbitration court proceedings. Why might this be and how does this impact arbitration’s prospects as a dispute resolution mechanism?
Courts are increasingly well equipped to deal with arbitration related proceedings. That increases confidence. With growing confidence, it is natural that more parties will take their arbitration related disputes to the Courts. The Singapore Courts are a great example. They are best in class, including in arbitration related disputes. At the same time, they are very mindful about stopping attempts to misuse the process by litigating matters that are meant for arbitration. Arbitration will continue to thrive because the Courts will continue to ensure that parties keep to their agreement to arbitrate.
Some practitioners report an increase in summary dismissals in arbitration proceedings. How might this impact the practice of arbitration in the near future should summary dismissals become common place?
The introduction of the summary dismissal procedure has been a huge plus. It can, in appropriate cases, reduce delays and costs. At the same time, because of high thresholds, parties know that legitimate complaints will be aired in a full hearing.
What excites you most about the future of arbitration?
That young lawyers are increasingly invested in arbitration. This bodes well for arbitration’s future. Young lawyers know that they will get their chance one day. And they are right. Arbitration will grow because it will be at the forefront of managing and resolving disputes arising from ever changing trends and issues in the commercial world. This will keep it highly relevant and in demand.
If you could introduce one reform to international arbitration, what would it be any why?
I would mandate more sleep.