Legal update: the Singapore Mediation Convention


The United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 2018, and was signed by 46 States in Singapore on 7 August 2019. Unsurprisingly, the Convention is commonly referred to as the “Singapore Mediation Convention”.

The purpose of the Singapore Mediation Convention is to facilitate the enforcement of international settlement agreements reached at mediation, and to allow parties to such agreements to enforce its terms.

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution, led by an independent third party (the mediator). The purpose of the mediator is to facilitate settlement discussion between the parties, and provide a forum in which they may voice their concerns and ideas, with the view that an overall agreement will be achieved.

The flexibility of mediation is very appealing not least because it is generally more cost and time efficient than litigation.

Mediation is a forum used to resolve many disputes, including employment, family, personal consumer, etc. However, it is important to note that the Singapore Mediation Convention applies to commercial disputes only.

Furthermore, the Singapore Mediation Convention will only apply where the settlement agreement:

  • is in writing;
  • is a result of mediation;
  • is an agreement between two or more parties who have their place of business in different States; and
  • the place of business of each of the parties is in a state that has acceded to, or ratified the Convention.

Before the Singapore Mediation Convention was introduced, there was little recourse for a party to enforce the terms of a cross border mediation agreement if the other party chose not to fulfill their obligations.  The Singapore Mediation Convention set to eliminate this issue with its objective being to “establish a framework for international settlement agreements resulting from mediation that is acceptable to States with difference legal, social and economic systems that would contribute to the development of harmonious international economic relations” (United National Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation). The Singapore Mediation Convention now sanctions mediation settlement agreements to be enforced via the Courts of a State.

Although the Convention’s success is yet to be seen, it brings reassurance that mediation is seen across the globe as a formidable tool in the armory of dispute resolution specialists.

States that have signed up to the Convention include: Afghanistan, Belarus, Belize, Brunei, Chile, China, Colombia, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kingdom of Eswatini, Fiji, Georgia, Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Montenegro, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Palau, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, the US, Uruguay and Venezuela. 

Lydia Pilati

The above is not intended to be relied on as legal advice and specific legal advice should be sought at all times in relation to the above.

If you would like to discuss any of the matters raised in this article, please contact:

Joanne Brown
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Disclaimer: This publication is general in nature and is not intended to constitute legal advice. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.