Ministry of Law in Singapore has provided for ‘free’ mediation for wedding couples and wedding vendors that were affected by the COVID-19 restrictions that were put in place by the government. The restrictions were imposed by the government on 8 May 2021 when a cap of 5 people was put for social gatherings. The maximum number of attendees for weddings during this phase remained at 250 that included the wedding couple but not the solemniser and the vendors. From 16 May 2021 onwards the Health Ministry imposed ‘Phase 2 (Heightened Alert)’ restrictions during which wedding receptions were not allowed.
The parties that were affected by these restrictions have been provided with an opportunity to resolve the matter through mediation. Some of the parties decided to reschedule or to downsize the gathering and some have even negotiated with the other party to find a solution.
It is important to note that the support for mediation will be provided ‘only’ if both the parties agree to mediate. This requirement highlights the importance of the voluntary nature of the mediation process. Unless and until the parties volunteer for the process of mediation, they will not be able to avail the benefits of ‘COVID-19 (Wedding) Mediation Programme’.
Period under consideration
The ‘COVID-19 (Wedding) Mediation Programme’ will be open to those involved in contract for the sale of goods and services in relation to a wedding or a wedding event between 8 May 2021 and 31 July 2021.
Eligibility Criteria for Mediation Programme
First, there needs to be a contract for the sale of goods or services with regards to the wedding event. The contract can be in writing or otherwise.
Second, the scheduled wedding event date must be between 8 May 2021 and 31 July 2021.
Creating trust in the process of Mediation
Such steps by the government play a huge role in creating trust for the process of mediation. When people of the society are sensitized towards existence of such consensual dispute resolution processes and their benefits, it creates trust in the society. People, corporations and other important stakeholders become acquainted with the technical requirements of the process of mediation.
Focus on resolution of the dispute
Such steps by the government highlight the focus on providing a platform for amicable resolution of disputes. The approach of the government is evident from its policies that provide necessary impetus to the field of mediation. It will help to scale up the use of mediation as more people utilize the process of mediation for resolving their disputes. The vision of the government in Singapore is to ensure that parties are not embroiled in litigation over matters that can be amicably resolved. The vendors and wedding couple can chalk out a solution through the process of mediation instead of going down the road of pursuing claims in court via litigation.
Model for other nations to follow
Such policy decisions consolidate the dispute resolution ecosystem of Singapore. The way Singapore is making use of mediation to resolve disputes in various fields is commendable and serves as an example in front of the international community. This serves as a ‘Model’ for other nations to replicate in their quest to make their own dispute resolution efficient and affordable. In the long run, such decisions will make mediation a ‘preferred’ mode of dispute resolution and push for its acceptance on the global level.
From the Mediation Matters Blog of Steve Mehta. Recently, at the ABA convention for alternative dispute resolution, there was a discussion of the secrets to a mediator’s success. This reminded...By Steve Mehta