15 September 2020

What you must know about the Singapore Convention on Mediation

The Singapore Convention on Mediation has entered into force since 12 September 2020. This convention will concern the viability of a multitude of commercial contracts as well as helping to further globalise world economies. 

We now set out the most relevant features of this convention: 

1. The Convention, also known as the United Nations (UN) Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, is the first UN treaty to be named after Singapore. As of 1 September 2020, the Convention has 53 signatories, including the United States, China and India. Ecuador is the most recent country to ratify the Convention, joining Singapore, Fiji, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Belarus, and bringing the number of countries who have ratified the Convention to six.

2. With the Convention in force, businesses seeking enforcement of a mediated settlement agreement across borders can do so by applying directly to the courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty, instead of having to enforce the settlement agreement as a contract in accordance with each country’s domestic process. The harmonized and simplified enforcement framework under the Convention translates to savings in time and legal costs, which is especially important for businesses in times of uncertainty, such as during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

3. With the Convention, businesses can rely on mediation as a dispute resolution option for their cross-border transactions, with greater certainty and assurance that their mediated outcomes are enforceable. The conciliatory nature of mediation also helps to preserve commercial relationships despite the disputes.

4. As adoption of the Convention becomes more prevalent globally, it will also strengthen Singapore’s position as an international dispute resolution centre and better serve the needs of international businesses that use Singapore as a base for their international commercial transactions. Over the years, Singapore has set up various institutions, including the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, Singapore International Mediation Centre, and Singapore International Commercial Court to provide a full suite of dispute resolution services for international commercial parties to resolve their disputes in Singapore.

5. Singapore had worked with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and other UN member states and non-governmental organisations to contribute to the development of this important instrument. The Convention opened for signature at a signing ceremony on 7 August 2019, and 46 countries signed the Convention. The number of first-day signatories was among the highest for any UN trade convention, reflecting international recognition and support of the Convention’s benefits.

6. “The Convention’s entry into force is a significant milestone, as it further strengthens the international dispute resolution enforcement framework. This benefits businesses by providing greater certainty in resolving cross-border commercial disputes, ultimately facilitating international trade and commerce", said the Minister for Home Affairs of Singapur and Law K Shanmugam.

7. Anna Joubin-Bret, Secretary of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, says, “With the entry into force of the Convention, we look forward to it bringing certainty and stability to the international framework on mediation, and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals, including the goal of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development".

To mark the entry into force, a digital event featuring a series of high-level speeches, followed by a commemoration ceremony will be screened on the Singapore Convention on Mediation website at Entry into Force Celebration from 12pm Singapore time (GMT+8) today. The video of the event will also be accessible for viewing on the Singapore Convention website after the event.

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