CIArb News

Thoughts on the Singapore Convention, the commitment dilemma and access to justice

02 Jun 2021

All of us who have ever been involved in disputes will remember the effort, worry, financial and opportunity cost involved. For those involved in disputes involving parties from different jurisdictions the issue of how to deal with disputes has always been a financial, commercial, legal and opportunity cost of major proportions. It would be a huge overstatement to say that the Singapore Convention solves all these problems. However, it does put a crucial piece of the puzzle into place.

One of the great benefits of mediation is that settlements are reached by mutual agreement, rather than imposition. As a result, the chances of needing court enforcement are radically reduced; after all, if I am directly involved and responsible for hammering out acceptable terms, I am unlikely to agree to something that is unworkable, or I don’t want. As a party who remains in control of the decision to settle and its terms, if no acceptable, workable outcome is found then I simply walk away. If an agreement is reached, it is usually happening against a backdrop of things having gone wrong, and it is normal for there to be a lack of trust between the parties. Therefore, it is perfectly natural for parties to want the security of knowing that, if there are problems, the settlement will be legally recognised by the relevant courts across international boundaries. This reassures everyone involved that all parties are absolutely committed to the agreed settlement.

The importance of the Singapore Convention allowing parties to demonstrate commitment in this way is hugely important. In making it possible for international disputants to use mediation with confidence, access to justice across international boundaries has been extended in a profoundly important way. We are living in exciting times.

CIArb will be hosting its annual Roebuck Lecture focused on the theme of ‘The impact of Singapore Mediation Convention, both on mediation and arbitration' delivered by Hon Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch EBS CBS MCIArb, (Rtd) Judge, Certified International Mediator (IMI), Certified Advanced Mediator, Chartered Mediator and Accredited Mediator.

Find out more here.

Head of Mediation Development
Dr Isabel Phillips

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