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Centre for Commercial Law Studies

Arbitrability: The Limits of Arbitration

7 April 2016

Time: 12:00 - 2:00pm
Venue: Room 3.1, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London, 67-69 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3JB

The School of International Arbitration is pleased to present a guest lecture by Leng Sun Chan.

The foundation of arbitration lies in the agreement of parties to arbitrate. Party autonomy is often invoked as a guiding principle. Nonetheless, there are instances where a dispute just cannot be decided by a private tribunal. It is accepted that the validity of an arbitration agreement, and the enforceability of an arbitral award, are subject to the concept of arbitrability. Yet, arbitrability is an evolving concept, the content of which varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and even changes over time. In this lecture, Chan Leng Sun, SC explores how courts in a number of jurisdictions, most recently the Singapore Court of Appeal in Tomolugen Holdings Ltd v Silica Investors Ltd [2015] SGCA 57, have grappled with the idea of arbitrability.

Following his talk, Steve Abraham will offer his comments, with particular reference to English case law.

Sir Bernard Rix, who is chairing the seminar, will round-up the session before the Q&A session.


  • 12.00pm Registration and light refreshments
  • 12.30pm Lecture, Leng Sun Chan
  • 1.15pm Comments on the subject from English law perspective, Steve Abraham
  • 1.30pm Round-up and comments by Sir Bernard Rix
  • 1.45pm Q&A
  • 2.00pm Close


Leng Sun Chan heads the Dispute Resolution practice in Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow and is Baker & McKenzie's Global Head of International Arbitration. He is qualified in Malaysia, Singapore and England. Leng Sun was appointed Senior Counsel, Singapore's equivalent to the Queen's Counsel, in January 2011. In addition to years of experience in maritime-related work, he has a broad commercial practice that covers international trade, insurance and company law.

Apart from being counsel, Leng Sun is a Chartered Arbitrator and is also on the panel of leading arbitral institutions. He is a Chairperson of the arbitration panel jointly appointed by the EU and Korea under the protocol on cultural cooperation of the Korea-EU FTA. Leng Sun is President of the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (SIArb). He serves as the Deputy President of the Maintenance of Parents Tribunal. He is on the Advisory Panel of the Singapore Maritime Foundation. He is a member of the Committee on the Singapore International Commercial Court.

Leng Sun has taught at the law schools of the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Management University. Leng Sun was a legal officer of the United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva and a SIAC-CIAC Observer to the UNCITRAL Working Group on Arbitration. He has published widely in international journals and is the author of the book Singapore Law on Arbitral Awards and Co-Editor of Conflict of Laws in Arbitration. 

Leng Sun has been recognised as a leading lawyer in legal and industry publications.

Steve Abraham is a dispute resolution partner of Baker & McKenzie based in London. Steve focuses mainly on disputes in the energy, mining and infrastructure sectors relating to projects in Africa, the Middle East and CIS countries. Steve resolves disputes in international arbitration (in which respect he has experience of all of the major arbitral institutions and of ad hoc arbitration) and by other methods including adjudication, mediation, expert determination and litigation. In addition to commercial dispute resolution, Steve regularly advises in relation to investment treaties and public international law issues. Steve also sits as an arbitrator.

He is recognised in his field in Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.

Who should attend

Eminent arbitrators, practising lawyers involved in international commercial arbitration, and lawyers in industry concerned with the arbitral process.

CPD Points

This event is accredited for 1 CPD hour with the Bar Standards Board.

How to Book

The registration fee is £10. Please register via the QMUL e-shop.


For more information, please contact the CCLS Events Team on

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