By this Originating Summons ("the OS") the plaintiffs seek to set aside Singapore International Arbitration Centre ("SIAC") Award No 91 of 2020 ("the Award"). The plaintiffs were the claimants and counterclaim respondents in the arbitration ("the Arbitration"). The defendants were the respondents and counterclaimants. Since it is not necessary to draw any distinction between the individual plaintiffs or defendants, I shall refer to the plaintiffs together as "CMJ" and the defendants together as "CML", their names having been anonymised for the purposes of these proceedings.
The OS was filed in the High Court (Originating Summons No 873 of 2020) on 9 September 2020 and was transferred to the Singapore International Commercial Court on 13 April 2021. Following the filing of affidavits and written submissions, there was an oral hearing before me on 1 and 2 November 2021 where Mr Giam Chin Toon SC ("Mr Giam SC") appeared on behalf of CMJ and Mr Cavinder Bull SC ("Mr Bull SC") appeared on behalf of CML.
The Arbitration was commenced 6 June 2016. It was seated in Singapore and the applicable substantive law was the laws of the People's Republic of China ("PRC"). It was administered by the SIAC and conducted under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Arbitration Rules of 1976 ("the UNCITRAL Rules").
CMJ sought declarations that CML had breached certain contracts, certain agency duties and duties of good faith under PRC law and sought damages for these alleged breaches. CML denied the claims made, disputing the scope of the duties alleged and the alleged breaches. CML counterclaimed for damages for CMJ's alleged breaches of the contracts and for recovery of outstanding amounts allegedly owed by CMJ to CML under the contracts. Both parties claimed to be entitled to terminate the contracts by reason of the alleged breaches.
By the Award dated 11 June 2020, a three-member tribunal ("the Tribunal") dismissed all of CMJ's claims but upheld CML's counterclaim to a limited extent and awarded damages in respect of those breaches.
CMJ seek to set aside the Award on the ground that there were breaches of natural justice in that they were not given a fair opportunity to present their case and that the Tribunal failed to apply its mind to important aspects of their submissions in the Arbitration.
The Arbitration arose from a dispute between the parties in relation to a petroleum contract entered into on 24 March 2005 to explore, develop and produce oil and gas resources at certain offshore fields. The collaboration between the parties turned out to be less successful than they had hoped. It appears that not only did the parties discover less gas in the fields than was anticipated but world gas prices also declined significantly over the course of the project which put the parties at a disadvantage in their negotiations with the sole buyer for the gas produced. The reasons for the less than satisfactory outcome are, however, not relevant to the OS.
What is relevant is the way in which the Arbitration, which was regulated in the usual way by Procedural Orders, was conducted. The timeline of the Arbitration is conveniently set out in a table in the first affidavit of Mr Yuen Po Kwong Peter, which is reproduced below: