On January 10, 2017, Singapore enacted yet another landmark legal reform, renewing its status as a leading seat for international arbitration. Singapore has completely abolished the torts of maintenance and champerty. This will allow parties to international arbitration to engage attorneys on a contingency fee basis. In addition, Singapore has expressly declared that third-party funding agreements are neither illegal nor contrary to public policy. Third-party funding arrangements allow parties to borrow money from certified lenders to pay their lawyers or experts in advance, but at the cost of a significant portion of the expected recovery. Once the reform comes into effect, the changes will further solidify its status as international arbitration hub.
Here we restate the objectives of Singapore’s Civil Law Amendment Bill, after which we examine the effect of the bill on contingency fee arrangements. We explore comparisons with other jurisdictions throughout. We will also address the most remarkable effect of the Civil Law Bill, Singapore’s resounding affirmation of third-party funding. We then examine the framework under which the Civil Law Act will soon delegate its regulation of third-party funding to the Ministry of Law.