Arbitration, a cost-effective and expeditious alternative to court litigation, takes place within complex and important national and international legal frameworks where legislation, rules, and conventions provide specialized regimes for the conduct of arbitrations. In recent years, Singapore has given evidence of a significant legislative activity in its fervor to make arbitration quicker and more efficient, and therefore has adopted domestic and international regimes that govern private commercial arbitration: the domestic Arbitration Act 2001 (AA) and the International Arbitration Act 2002 (IAA). While these laws differ from each other in matters of arbitral proceedings, they also reflect the best practice in dispute resolution used in the Asia Pacific Region, where Singapore is a regional and financial centre that serves as a gateway between East and West. The purpose of this paper is to examine the arbitral regime and practice arising from the Singapore Arbitration Act 2001. The paper will look at the piece of legislative drafting from the perspective of language use in order to gain insights into the rhetorical and discursive features realized in the construction of the genre. First, the paper will outline the nature and topic of a two-ranked arbitral regime (AA – IAA) that is of relevance for the arbitration framework in Singapore. Secondly, the paper will analyze quantitatively and qualitatively the linguistic and textual choices realized in the professional/institutional practice and discourse of the genre, while also identifying those features which seem to constrain the accessibility and interpretation of legislative action performed in the genre. To the extent that Singapore inherited the Western-style legal culture of the English common law tradition, this part of the paper will also assess how the Singapore Arbitration Act borrowed semantic resources from the English Arbitration Act 1996 previously investigated by this author (Tessuto 2003), therefore giving rise to manifestations of “interdiscursivity” (Bhatia 2008, 2010a, 2011) from the discursive process and professional practice of English arbitration. Finally, the paper will draw some conclusions from the analysis of the most salient rhetorical and discursive data in the chosen genre, by adding as yet to our understanding of the intercultural and interdiscursive elements of drafting in the Eastern and Western socio-legal contexts.
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