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Party autonomy, venue risk and jurisdiction agreements – the Singapore position reappraised
Journal of Private International Law  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-09-22, DOI: 10.1080/17441048.2021.1953256
Lance Ang

Party autonomy is the defining principle of private international law today. Notwithstanding its broad acceptance, what does party autonomy mean in the context of jurisdiction agreements? The lack of commercial certainty in how the agreement to “submit” to the jurisdiction of the courts in the chosen forum will be interpreted and enforced by the courts defeats the very purpose of party autonomy itself, which is the management of venue risk by commercial parties in entering into cross-border transactions. In light of recent developments, the Singapore court has blurred the distinction between exclusive and non-exclusive jurisdiction agreements by holding that the same requirement of “strong cause” applies if a party reneges on its agreement to “submit”. This is premised on the same strict contractual analysis and enforcement of both types of agreements. It is against this background that the approach of the Singapore courts in determining the exercise of their own jurisdiction under the common law will be reappraised, along with a comparison with the practice of the English courts.