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Witness-Gating in International Commercial Arbitration - Can I Get a Witness?: CBS v CBP [2021] 1 SLR 935 [Case Note]

Alan J S De Rochefort-Reynolds

(2022) 34 SAcLJ 229

In CBS v CBP [2021] 1 SLR 935, the Singapore Court of Appeal considered whether an arbitrator could prohibit a party from calling oral evidence from any fact witnesses. The bounds of tribunal power to exclude or limit witness testimony is largely unexplored. Taking the case as a starting point, this case note identifies a diversity of witness-gating powers which can be exercised in several ways. Crucially, in Singapore, the existence and permissible exercise of a witness-gating power depends on the specific arbitral rules, national legislation and, potentially, party agreement. Understanding a tribunal's precise power to gate witness testimony is needed to reduce inefficiencies arising from due process paranoia while upholding natural justice and to prevent misinformed challenges to awards.