13 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – SEPTEMBER 2023 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM courting Russian business for the last two decades. Lawrence Teh, Dentons’s global cohead of international arbitration, says that Dentons has historically received significant arbitration work from Eastern Europe, including Russia, both globally and in Singapore. He adds that Singapore is seen as a popular arbitration seat among Russians when dealing with Chinese and other Asian counterparties, as it is considered a neutral venue. “Singapore was a good place for Russians particularly if they were trading with a Chinese or any other Asian counterparty. The Russians wouldn’t prefer to arbitrate in China in the same way that China would prefer not to arbitrate in Russia. Therefore, Singapore became a very acceptable result,” he notes. Singapore usually only implements United Nations sanctions in international conflict scenarios, and not those imposed by the U.S. or the EU, says Teh. But on this occasion of the conflict in Ukraine, Singapore has adopted a different approach and imposed limited sanctions against four Russian banks – VTB Bank, Vnesheconombank, Promsvyazbank and Bank Rossiya. The implementation of sanctions against these banks has affected the Singapore arbitration market a little. “Banking becomes more difficult. Russians will find that if they’re using these four banks that have been sanctioned, they may have difficulty paying advances on costs to arbitral institutions on time,” says Teh. Singapore has also always been fair to Russian parties in arbitrations. Despite hostilities in Ukraine, Singaporebased tribunals and courts continue to make and recognise awards in favour of Russian parties, including a nine-figure claim that Teh argued for on behalf of a Russian client. Despite this, moving arbitration to more sanction-neutral venues like Hong Kong still appears attractive at first glance. The Special Administrative Region has historically been Asia’s Image: Victor Josan/ ARBITRATION