The Singapore High Court is currently hearing a dispute between the Astro Group and the Lippo Group as to whether a series of 5 arbitration awards that Astro has obtained against Lippo for a total sum of about US$300 million should be recognised or set aside. The decision of the Singapore High Court is very likely to have repercussions on the decisions of the foreign courts in which Astro is seeking to enforce the awards (Malaysia, Hong Kong and Indonesia). This is because the awards were made in Singapore, thereby giving the Singapore courts supervisory jurisdiction over the awards.
These 5 awards arise out of a dispute involving a failed joint venture between the parties in the satellite TV business in Indonesia. The Astro Group is a Malaysian broadcasting and media entity led by Mr. Ananda Krishnan while the Lippo Group is an Indonesian conglomerate led by Mr. James Riady, both of whom are prominent tycoons in the South East Asian region.
Notably, this case will see two UK Queen’s Counsel arguing the case before the Singapore High Court. The last successful application for the admission of Queen’s Counsel to argue before the Singapore Courts was in 2004. Back in December 2011, the Singapore High Court allowed Astro’s application in Re Joseph David QC,  SGHC 262 to admit Mr. David Joseph QC as its counsel to argue this case. The Singapore High Court considered that Mr. Joseph QC “appears particularly suited to address the issues arising in this case…because he is the author of Jurisdiction and Arbitration Agreements and their Enforcement (Sweet & Maxwell, 2005) and (Sweet & Maxwell, 2nd Ed, 2010), which is now widely considered to be a leading reference text in the complex field of arbitration law. This book has also been referred to by the Singapore courts as an authority for various legal propositions or views…“.
In this regard, Lippo is represented by Mr. Toby Landau QC who acted for the successful party in the UK Supreme Court case of Dallah Real Estate and Tourism Holding Company v The Ministry of Religious Affairs, Government of Pakistan  UKSC 46. This is a case which was identified by the same Singapore High Court as one which “being a decision of the UK Supreme Court, merits careful consideration… The application of Dallah in the resolution of this legal conundrum could have important implications for the arbitral and commercial communities here and perhaps elsewhere” (see paragraph ).
We will have an upcoming post on the takeaways from this dispute and in particular the strengths and weaknesses of the enforcement regime in arbitration through the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.