The Singapore Convention on Mediation was officially open for signature from 7 August 2019. Senior officials representing 70 countries worldwide attended a conference in Singapore this week to give their support to the treaty. The key aim of the Convention is to boost the profile of mediation as another method of solving the international commercial disputes.


What is the impact of the Convention?

In most cases when a settlement is reached at mediation, all parties will comply with the agreed terms. Unfortunately, on some occasions a party may fail to comply with its obligations and the other party will need to take action to enforce the terms of the agreement that was reached.

The Convention will make enforcement of mediation agreements much easier. Historically, a party would have to obtain a judgment or award for breach of contract before proceeding with enforcement action. However, the Singapore Mediation Convention will allow the enforcing party to go directly to a court in the country where enforcement is sought. The Court is then required to enforce the settlement agreement under an expedited procedure (subject to some exceptions).


Why is mediation so popular at the moment?

One of the key advantages of mediation is that the parties stand a better chance of preserving their commercial relationship and it can help avoid the ill feeling that can arise if the parties are involved in lengthy legal proceedings. A skilled mediator should be able to bring the parties closer together and assist them in reaching a settlement which represents a compromise for both parties.

Mediation can also be a quicker and more cost-effective way of resolving a dispute. The Courts are increasingly struggling with the large numbers of claims being issued. It can take in the region of 10 – 14 months to get to a final trial in England at present. In contrast, a successful mediation can lead to matters being resolved in a matter of weeks.

The benefits of mediation are being recognised worldwide and the Convention has had a very good reception on the international stage to date. Some 46 countries including China and the United States have already signed up.

The position in respect of the EU is still uncertain as the European Commission needs to decide whether it can sign on behalf of its member states of whether the states need to sign individually.


How could this help me?

At Stephens Scown, we have considerable experience in using mediation to resolve national and international disputes. A number of members of our team are accredited mediators and therefore have a unique insight into the most effective strategy and tactics to be used during mediation.

If you are involved in a dispute and would like to discuss the benefits of using alternative dispute resolution, please do get in contact.