The Singapore Convention on Mediation

The Singapore Convention on Mediation, which opened for signature on 7th August, marked a defining moment in the Alternative Dispute Resolution world on a scale not seen since the introduction of the New York Arbitration Convention in 1959. Backed by 46 countries to date, including the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China, the Convention provides – for the first time – a route to enforcement of mediated outcomes for cross-border commercial disputes. 

The Singapore Ministry of Law certainly pulled out all the stops to welcome representatives from over 50 countries to the signing ceremony, alongside various conference sessions on the virtues of an effective global environment for mediation.

Most legal professionals will agree that the strength of mediation lies in its collaborative approach. Both parties must reach a mutually agreeable outcome – a process, hopefully, free from rancour or malignancy. 

There’s also the added financial bonus – settling disputes swiftly via mediation cuts out costs associated with arbitration or litigation, such as in instructing senior counsel. 

But the benefits don’t stop there. As any seasoned PR professional will tell you, opting for mediation means disputes can be settled outside the censorious public eye. Often media choose to cast one party as the villain, another the victim – a labelling not always entirely based on the merits of each case. Fighting a PR war whilst trying to litigate, is an unenviable position to be in so there’s an attraction in privately mediated outcomes. To date the problem has been in enforcement – however the greater the number of countries committing to signing the Convention, the surer the chances of enforcement. We are confident the Singapore Convention will continue to attract support.

Far be it for us to herald the decline in litigation and related PR services, but it’s hard to disagree with the sentiment that mediating might both save you a few bob and safeguard your reputation. 

19 August 2019

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