We recently reported (here) on the official launch of the Singapore International Mediation Institute (SIMI) on 5 November 2014. One particularly interesting feature of the launch was the announcement of a new arbitration-mediation-arbitration (‘Arb-Med-Arb’) protocol (“AMA Protocol“), under which the SIMI will work closely with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) to promote mediation within international arbitration.
The concept of Arb-Med-Arb is not a new one. Various prominent jurisdictions and institutions including the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) both recognize and support the use of mediation as a precursor to arbitration (Med-Arb) or during the arbitral process (Arb-Med-Arb). However, two key factors set the AMA Protocol apart – the clarity and certainty of the process, and the assurance of institutional support. The new model AMA Protocol allows a party to commence arbitration under the auspices of the SIAC, and then proceed to mediation under the SIMI.
Our Singapore office examines the new AMA Protocol in this post on our arbitration blog, Arbitration Notes.
On 5 November, the Singapore International Mediation Institute (SIMI) was officially launched by Singapore’s Senior Minister for Law and Education, who described mediation as the “third jewel” in the crown of Singapore’s legal services landscape, alongside arbitration and international litigation.
SIMI, which has a partnership relationship with the International Mediation Institute (IMI), was founded by and is housed at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law. It is the fruition of a recommendation by the International Commercial Mediation Working Group, appointed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Singapore’s Ministry of Law.
As a professional standards body, SIMI will not itself conduct mediation sessions but will provide users with tools to make basic decisions on using mediation and choosing a suitable mediator. More details on SIMI’s remit can be found here.
It is generally accepted that, while the use of mediation is on the rise globally, this trend is significantly more pronounced in the West than in Asia. While the modern concept of formal mediation has of course been around for longer in the West, and has had more time to take hold, can this alone explain the disparity? Or does the explanation lie at least partly in how mediation is ‘sold’ ?
Sean Izor, an associate in our Beijing and Hong Kong offices, examines this issue in an article recently published in the Asian Journal on Mediation. In particular, he seeks to identify a number of broad cultural differences in the way individuals approach disputes generally and suggests that practitioners and proponents of mediation would do well to bear these in mind when seeking to communicate the benefits of mediation to Asian parties.
Read the article ‘Selling Mediation in the East – Is there an Asian Way?’ (© Singapore Mediation Centre. Originally published in  Asian Journal on Mediation, 1. Reprinted with permission.)
A quick and cheap dispute resolution service was announced on 2 May 2012 by the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC). The SMC is a non-profit organisation that provides mediation and other ADR services. Under the new arrangements, parties who are unable to settle disputes but are unwilling to foot the significant legal costs of court/arbitration proceedings can opt for Neutral Evaluation. An impartial third party will deliver a legally binding decision based on the merits of the case in a confidential process. The procedure is quick – a decision can be reached in a month or less. The parties will be required to pay the neutral’s professional fees and an administrative fee ranging from SD$700 to SD$2,000. In comparison, SMC’s current mediation fee starts at SD$900 per party per day, with fees varying depending on the size of the claim.
The SMC’s current panel of neutrals includes Senior Counsel, former Supreme Court judges, and a former judicial commissioner.
Compared to litigation or arbitration, early evaluation offers parties greater flexibility and autonomy, much like mediation. However, unlike mediation and most forms of early neutral evaluation, the SMC’s neutral evaluation service results in a binding decision, and this renders if relatively unusual.
On 9 September 2011, 26 organisations pledged their support for mediation at a ceremony held at the Conrad Centennial in Singapore.
These organisations (a list of which can be viewed here) have pledged their commitment to resolve disputes outside traditional litigation channels. Continue reading
A programme which allows lawyers to become “Associated Mediators” through the Singapore Mediation Centre has continued to grow in Singapore. Under this programme, a lawyer with three years of legal experience can undergo specific mediation training so that he/she can be added to the Singapore Mediation Centre’s “Associated Mediator” panel. As a member of this panel, lawyers are able to volunteer to act as mediators in disputes arising in the Subordinate Courts. This programme began in 2009, and its success has led to the Subordinate Courts recently expanding the programme’s reach to allow Associate Mediators to mediate cases in the Small Claims Tribunal as well.
On 1 February 2011 amendments to the Industrial Relations Act were brought into force in Singapore. Among the amendments is the establishment of a new scheme for the mediation of certain disputes involving employees who are employed in “professional, managerial or executive positions” and their employers. Continue reading
The Singapore Rules of Court have been amended to include the possibly of adverse cost consequences regarding a party’s conduct in relation to mediation or ADR. Order 59 Rule 5(c) of the Rules of Court provides that when the Court is exercising its discretion as to costs, it shall take into account “the parties’ conduct in relation to any attempt at resolving the cause or matter by mediation or any other means of dispute resolution”. There has not been established case law examining the impact of this amendment as of yet, but this amendment seems to suggest that there may now be a push in Singapore to encourage ADR, particularly mediation.