AuthorJoel LEE Tye Beng LLB (Hons) (Wellington), LLM (Harvard), DCH (AIH); Barrister and Solicitor (New Zealand), Advocate and Solicitor (Singapore); Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore; Chair, Singapore International Mediation Institute. Nadja ALEXANDER BA, LLB (Hons) (Qld), Dip International Studies (Vienna), LLM D Jur (summa cum laude) (Tübingen); Professor, School of Law, Singapore Management University; Director, Singapore International Dispute Resolution Academy.
Publication year2019
Published date01 December 2019
Date01 December 2019

1 It has been more than two decades since the modern mediation movement took hold in Singapore. In that time, mediation has taken root and branched out into various legal and social areas including, inter alia, community, family and commercial disputes.

2 In recent years, and in line with Singapore's aspirations of being a premier hub for legal services, there has also been an increasing focus on international commercial mediation. This manifested in 2014 with the Ministry of Law's Working Group Report on International Commercial Mediation, and the establishment of the Singapore International Mediation Centre (as a service provider of mediation services for international commercial disputes) and the Singapore International Mediation Institute (as a standards-setting and accreditation body for the mediation industry both domestically and internationally). The establishment of the Singapore International Dispute Resolution Academy (as a think-tank and thought leader for mediation) and the passing of the Mediation Act 20171 continued this trend.

3 This year will be the next milestone with the signing of the Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation2 (“Singapore Convention”) in August 2019. This is significant because the Singapore Convention seeks to address one of the strongest criticisms of mediation, namely that mediated settlements are not easily enforceable internationally. Put simply, the Singapore Convention seeks to do for mediation what the Convention on the Recognition and

Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards3 did for arbitration. To be sure, it will be some time before the effects of the Singapore Convention will be felt. This is in the nature of international instruments and is to be expected. It will take time for countries to sign on and implement the Convention such that a critical mass is attained. And of course, there will be the naysayers, some of whom will make constructive points, while others will speak from a place that fails to appreciate the nature of mediation and its fundamental differences compared to processes like arbitration and litigation; yet others will criticise from a place of self-interest. This is to be expected. Those who have championed mediation know that it is and continues to be a long game, and patience and persistence is in order.

4 For these reasons this edition on international commercial mediation is a significant and timely one. Not only is it an acknowledgment of how...

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