On December 3, 2013, Singapore’s Ministry of Law unveiled key initiatives to transform and develop its international commercial mediation sector. Based on recommendations of a Working Group established in April 2013 by Singapore’s Chief Justice and the Ministry, the recommendations include the establishment of two new independent mediation entities: a new professional mediation body (the “Singapore International Mediation Institute”), and a new international mediation service provider (the “Singapore International Mediation Centre”).
The Ministry of Law’s press release and summary of recommendations are available on their website, here.
1. The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) welcomes recommendations made by the International Commercial Mediation Working Group (ICMWG) to develop Singapore into a centre for international commercial mediation. This will add to Singapore’s vibrant dispute resolution sector that has been growing on the back of a significant rise in commercial transactions in Asia and the corresponding increase in the number and complexity of cross-border disputes.
Recommendations by the International Commercial Mediation Working Group
2. The ICMWG submitted its recommendations on 29 November 2013. The recommendations include:
a) Quality Standards – Establish a professional body to set standards and provide accreditation for mediators;
b) International Mediation Services – Establish an international mediation service provider which will offer as part of its service offerings, a quality panel of international mediators and experts, as well as user-centric innovative products and services;
c) Legislative Framework – Enact a Mediation Act to strengthen the framework for mediation in Singapore;
d) Exemptions and Incentives – Extend existing tax exemptions and incentives applicable for arbitration, to mediation; and
e) Judicial Support – Enhance rules and Court processes to encourage greater use of mediation.
3. Co-Chair of the ICMWG, Mr Edwin Glasgow QC said, “With its excellent legal system, infrastructure, connectivity and geographical location, Singapore is ideally placed to be the centre of excellence for international commercial mediation. The feedback we have already received from international players and corporate users has been extremely positive. I hope and believe that the Working Group’s recommendations will help Singapore to acquire in respect of international commercial mediation, the reputation which it already unquestionably enjoys in the equally important field of arbitration.”
4. Co-Chair Mr George Lim SC said, “By building up Singapore’s mediation capabilities and expertise, particularly to deal with international commercial disputes, commercial users will be able to choose from a full spectrum of dispute resolution services, ranging from facilitative mediation to binding arbitration. This will enable users to tap on the dispute resolution process that best addresses their specific needs. I believe that mediation, where successful, can help commercial parties save considerable time, costs and achieve flexible, mutually acceptable solutions to otherwise seemingly intractable disputes.”
5. The Chief Justice and Minister for Law have expressed their appreciation to the Working Group for the work and effort put into this review. MinLaw will follow up with the relevant stakeholders to see how the various recommendations can be implemented. A summary of the ICMWG’s recommendations is at Annex A.
6. In April 2013, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and the Ministry of Law appointed Mr Edwin Glasgow CBE QC and Mr George Lim SC to co-chair a nine-member working group to propose plans to develop the international commercial mediation space in Singapore. The group comprised international and local members to provide a wide range of expertise and views.
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