Stay on court proceedings in presence of an arbitration clause can be granted to either of the parties to arbitration only

Supreme Court of Singapore: A Single Judge Bench of Choo Han Teck, J., dismissed appeals filed against the order of the Assistant Registrar, whereby the application for stay filed by the appellants on account of an arbitration clause, was dismissed.

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether a stay should be granted in favour of three defendants (appellants) on the ground of effective case management, even though they were not parties to arbitration.

The Court observed that effective case management is not a legal principle, it is rather an administrative term used to denote the administrative functions of the courts such as placing cases in order of priority, fixing the dates for hearing, no. of days for hearing etc. Although there is a possibility of conflicting findings by the arbitrator and the Court that should not be the only ground to stop the plaintiff from proceeding against all the four defendants collectively especially when the plaintiff claims that all the four defendants had conspired to cause him harm. The order of stay was granted in favour of defendant no.1 because it was a party to the arbitration while the rest of the defendants were not.

The Court held that whatever might be the outcome of the arbitration, it will not bind the plaintiff or the three defendants in an action before the Court. Further, there was no good reason to grant a stay in favour of the three defendants, who were not even parties to the arbitration, so that they can take their seats as spectators to the arbitration proceedings. Hence, the assistant registrar had rightly rejected the application of all the other defendants apart from defendant no.1. Resultantly, the appeals filed by the appellants were dismissed by the Court. [Epoch Minerals Pte Ltd. v. Raffles Asset Management (S) Pte Ltd., [2018] SGHC 223, order dated 08-10-2018]

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