NUS Law receives S$2 million gift to establish the Michael and Laura Hwang Professorship in International Arbitration

Professor Stavros Brekoulakis, a leading academic in international arbitration, has been appointed Chair of the Michael and Laura Hwang Professorship in International Arbitration

The NUS Faculty of Law (NUS Law) has received a S$2 million endowed gift from Dr Michael Hwang SC, an internationally recognised arbitrator and Senior Counsel with more than 50 years’ experience in legal practice, to establish the Michael and Laura Hwang Professorship in International Arbitration. The Professorship celebrates Dr Hwang’s contributions in the field of International Arbitration, as well as his 80th birthday.

International arbitration provides a private and neutral platform for cross-border disputes to be resolved, which is particularly important when parties want to avoid giving the other a local court advantage, or where the domestic judicial system of one party may be unfamiliar, complex, or challenging to navigate. Well-known as a hub for international dispute resolution, Singapore is one of the preferred locations for arbitration in the world, and where many top arbitrators and academics often converge.

Professor Stavros Brekoulakis has been appointed the inaugural Michael and Laura Hwang Professor in International Arbitration for an initial term of three years. He will commence his tenure at NUS Law in February 2024, and will start off by running an intensive arbitration course for law students.

Widely recognised as a leading authority in the field of international arbitration, Professor Brekoulakis was most recently the Director of the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary University of London, and also practices as an arbitrator. Professor Brekoulakis is regularly listed in Who’s Who Legal: Arbitration and Who’s Who Legal Thought Leaders: Arbitration, being praised as “a powerhouse in international arbitration” with “a seemingly encyclopaedic recall of jurisprudence”; “a reigning thought leader in the arbitration space”, “one of the great minds in the international arbitration world”. Outside academia, Professor Brekoulakis has led important policy projects and advised a wide number of governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental organisations.

Professor Andrew Simester, Dean of NUS Law said: “The Michael and Laura Hwang Professorship in International Arbitration is a significant milestone for NUS Law. We are indeed privileged that Professor Stavros Brekoulakis, a leading authority in international arbitration, has accepted our invitation to the Professorship. As Singapore continues to grow as a top global and regional arbitration hub, Professor Brekoulakis is a key hire whose knowledge and experience will complement the faculty’s current arbitration programmes and existing expertise. I look forward to the robust exchange of ideas and perspectives with both faculty members and students alike when he joins us next year.”  

Dr Michael Hwang SC said: “My main field of practice in the last 30 years has been in  international arbitration and I was one of the first Singaporean practitioners to enter this area in the early 1990s. I am immensely proud of the global recognition and standing Singapore has achieved in this field over the last three decades, and I now want to make a contribution to further the development of Singapore’s role as one of the major centres of international arbitration.”

He added: “My wife Laura and I are very happy that Professor Stavros Brekoulakis, a scholar-practitioner of international renown, will be the first holder of the Professorship. We expect him to further develop Singapore’s standing as an international arbitration powerhouse by making it a magnet for the education, research and training of future scholars and practitioners in this important field of law.”

Dr Michael Hwang SC: His contributions to NUS Law and the international legal landscape

Dr Michael Hwang SC was a partner at Allen & Gledhill, one of Singapore’s largest law firms, for over 30 years, and was appointed as one of the first 12 Senior Counsels of the Supreme Court of Singapore in 1997. From mid-1991 to end-1992, he served as a Judicial Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Singapore. Between 2010 and 2018, Dr Hwang served as Chief Justice of the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts in Dubai.

In the area of arbitration, he has been chair, co-arbitrator, sole arbitrator, and counsel in numerous international arbitrations, including those under the auspices of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, the London Court of International Arbitration, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. He has also served on the governing bodies of more than 10 national and international arbitration institutions.

As a distinguished legal practitioner, Dr Hwang places great importance on the transfer of knowledge to benefit current and future generations of legal practitioners. Against this backdrop, he has published two essay collections, Selected Essays on International Arbitration and Selected Essays on Dispute Resolution, as well as conducting lectures and training courses for arbitration students and practitioners in Singapore and beyond, including in Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and the United States.

Given Dr Hwang’s experience in international arbitration and his far-reaching contributions to law, his wife, Laura Hwang mooted the idea of the Professorship in International Arbitration at NUS Law. She felt that it was only apt since he has given so much of his life to the practice of law and arbitration.

Dr Hwang’s association with NUS Law started from the early days of his career. Between 1969 - 1977 and 1984 - 1994, he was a part-time lecturer and external examiner for NUS Law, and returned as a Visiting Professor in 1999. He has also served as a member of the Curriculum Review Committee and its Consultative Committee in the 1980s.

Professor Andrew Simester, Dean of NUS Law, added: “Dr Michael Hwang’s expertise and contributions to the practice of law and international dispute resolution are legendary. I am deeply grateful for his generous donation to establish this Chair in International Arbitration, which cements his legacy in an area so close to his heart. I applaud his spirit of giving towards the growth and development of the legal community.”