The Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) has issued its first written judgment on an $800 million dispute concerning parties from Indonesia and Australia, involving various claims related to the breaches of a joint venture agreement.

The three-judge panel comprised of presiding judge Quentin Loh from Singapore, and international judges Sir Vivian Ramsey from the UK and Anselmo Reyes from Hong Kong.

The plaintiffs, Binderless Coal Briquetting and BCBC Singapore, were represented by partners Francis Xavier, Jeremy Gan, and Alina Chia from Rajah & Tann. The defendants, PT Bayan Resources (BR) and Bayan International, were represented by Davinder Singh, Tony Yeo, and Jaikanth Shankar of Drew & Napier.

The joint venture sought to exploit a technology developed in Australia for the upgrading of coal known as the Binderless Coal Briquetting Process in conjunction with a supply of sub-bituminous coal from mines in Tabang in Indonesia's East Kalimantan.

By parties’ agreement, the first tranche of the trial dealt solely with the issues of contractual obligations under the joint venture agreement. Among other findings, the court found that BR was not under an obligation to fund the joint venture company at the material time. It also found that BCBC Singapore did not owe implied obligations to exercise care and skill as a competent designer, builder and operator of briquetting plants, and to procure that the plant reach a production capacity of 1 million tonnes per annum; this caused BR’s counterclaim to be struck out in its entirety. The full judgment can be found here.  

On the final issue of whether BR was under an obligation to supply coal, the court found that there was insufficient evidence, and reserved judgment to the next tranche of trial. It did not issue a final ruling on the dispute – the question of whether BR and Bayan International were in breach of the joint venture agreement did not arise for determination in this tranche of the trial.

The SICC was established in January 2015 to deal with transnational commercial disputes. It is a division of the Singapore High Court and part of the Supreme Court of Singapore.