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28 April 2021

Mediation bodies seal international alliance in Singapore to improve standards

Five groups from across globe team up to promote cross-cultural awareness and improve training

By Ben Rigby

Singapore Shutterstock

Five international mediation training bodies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Singapore aimed at raising international mediation standards.

The group has pledged ‘to develop mediation into a recognised and viable profession’ in a move that builds on the Singapore Convention on Mediation, which came into force last September and which allows for the easier enforcement by national courts of international settlement agreements, much as the New York Convention does for arbitration awards.

“We hope that with the signing of this MOU and technological advances, mediators are no longer bound by physical geography but are recognised and trusted to mediate disputes in other jurisdictions,” said Marcus Lim, CEO of Singapore’s International Mediation Institute (SIMI), one of the memorandum’s five backers.

Joining SIMI in backing the initiative are Malaysia’s Asia Mediation Centre, the Instituto de Certificacao e Formacao de Mediadores Lusofonos (an alliance of Portuguese-speaking mediators), China’s International Dispute Resolution & Risk Management Institute (IDRRMI), and the Institut Français de Certification des Médiateurs, based in Paris.

Andrew Pullen, a barrister at Fountain Court Chambers in Singapore, told The Global Legal Post: “Mediation is an important dispute resolution tool, but has historically been under-used in Asia, though mediation’s profile has been raised by the Singapore Convention. Any initiative to promote high standards amongst mediators and mediation service providers is a welcome contribution towards providing quality assurance to users.” 

Signatories of the MOU promise to work together to promote an ‘exchange of inter-cultural mediation skills’, improve training and the quality of services, and promote the use of mediation for resolving disputes.

Colin Ong QC, of London chambers 36 Stone and a senior mediator with IDRRMI, stressed the importance of increasing awareness of different approaches to mediation across different cultures. “Almost by definition, international dispute resolution involves parties from different jurisdictions each with their own traditions and approaches to mediation,” he said.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ head of ADR, Alex Oddy, said a desire for increased regulation around mediation was an Asian regional trend that stretched as far back as the Global Pound Conference series of events on ADR in 2016/7, which his firm had supported. “The MOU indicates that other regions may share that interest, so building confidence in mediation through recognised mediator standards is a step on the journey,” he added.

For Chanaka Kumarasinghe, a partner at HFW in Singapore, the pandemic has “created all manner of disruption to the workings of commercial and business relationships. Resolving these problems in mediation is not only cost and time efficient, but will preserve relationships instead of breaking them.”

Mediator Gregory Hunt, of London’s Hunt ADR, said: “There has never been a more suitable time for alliances of this nature to develop. It can only strengthen the profile of mediation at a time when it seems closer than ever to becoming the norm rather than the alternative. The five organisations should be congratulated."

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