Singapore – Singapore’s High Court upheld a US$250 million arbitration award to Malaysian billionaire Ananda Krishnan’s Astro All Asia Networks against its former Indonesian business partner Lippo Group over a failed pay-TV venture.
Astro had back in 2005 formed a joint venture with First Media and other affiliates of the Lippo Group to establish a pay-TV business in Indonesia. The joint venture was not concluded, and in 2008 Astro commenced arbitration proceedings in Singapore against Lippo to recover approximately US$560 million which it had paid for the joint venture, and an award was granted in its favour. To enforce the awards, Astro also sought orders from other foreign courts including Malaysia, Hong Kong and Indonesia.
The Singapore High Court decision was made after Lippo did not oppose a three-member arbitration tribunal, which ruled against Lippo in 2010. Lippo’s lawyer Toby Landau has said that the limit to oppose the arbitration award didn’t apply in the case and that the company never agreed to arbitration. However, in the 85-page ruling, Singapore’s High Court dismissed Lippo’s applications to set aside court orders that had granted leave to enforce the awards of the arbitration case, saying that once the time limit passes, the tribunal’s decision is taken as accepted by the parties and there is no possibility of further recourse.
Commenting on the Singapore High Court’s decision, Jonathan Choo, Partner at Olswang Asia, one of South East Asia’s leading media and technology arbitration firms, told TV Asia Plus, “Singapore is already a place where global companies come for impartial, fast and effective dispute resolution through international arbitration. This decision reassures arbitration users that the Singapore courts respect the finality and enforcement of arbitration awards and will not look to interfere with them except in very limited circumstances as set out in existing legislation.”