07 Aug 2019

Singapore Convention in signing ceremony

The Signing Ceremony for the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (Singapore Convention on Mediation) was held today in Singapore.

Ministry of Law

Co-organized by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)  and the Singapore Ministry of Law, this globally significant event opened with formal addresses by the Singapore prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, and United Nations assistant secretary-general for legal affairs, Stephen Mathias.

"Open for business"

“This will help advance international trade, commerce and investment,” said Mr Hsien Loong at the signing ceremony. “Today, a group of states have come together to recommit ourselves to multilateralism and to declare that we remain open for business.” Mr Mathias said, “Uncertainty surrounding the enforcement of settlement agreements had been the main obstacle of the greater use of mediation.” The signing ceremony was followed by panels and break-out sessions on topics ranging from the negotiation of the convention to the future of international dispute resolution and the rule of law. The signing ceremony is also part of the Singapore Convention Week, a series of events related to dispute resolution taking place this week in the city state.  UNCITRAL approved the final draft of the Convention on June 26, 2018, at its 51st session, concluding three years of vigorous debate by UNCITRAL Working Group II (Dispute Settlement) with participation by 85 member states and 35 international governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

Main Features

The Convention applies to international agreements arising from the mediation efforts of parties to resolve commercial disputes. Me Mathias explained, “The convention sets the standards for enforcing and invoking settlement agreements, the requirements for reliance on settlement agreements and the grounds for refusing to grant relief.” State parties to the Convention must enforce a mediated commercial settlement in accordance with the state parties' rules of procedure and under the conditions laid down in the Convention. The Convention does not apply to settlement agreements that: (i) have been approved by a court or have been concluded in the course of court proceedings; (ii) are enforceable as a judgment in the state of that court; or (iii) have been recorded and are enforceable as an arbitral award. The rationale of this carve-out is that there are other international instruments (e.g., the New York Convention and the Hague Convention on the Choice of Court Agreements) that specifically govern these types of settlement agreements.