Developments in Singapore’s Mediation Landscape
On 10 January 2017, the Singapore parliament passed the Mediation Act. The Mediation Act ushers in a series of developments which are set to further raise the appeal of mediation as the preferred alternative dispute resolution method. The introduction of the Mediation Act further enhances Singapore’s status as a premier dispute resolution hub both in Asia and internationally.
This update looks at the key features of the Mediation Act and when businesses can consider adopting mediation as an alternative mode of dispute Pursuant to the Mediation Act, mediating parties would be able to :-
- By consent (and subject to certain formal requirements) have their mediated settlement agreement recorded and directly enforced as an order of court; and
- Stay court proceedings pending the outcome of mediation.
Staying Court Proceedings Pending the Outcome of Mediation
The Mediation Act provides a statutory basis for parties to apply for a stay of court proceedings pending the outcome of
Evidently, a stay would lead to time and cost savings to parties since no further action would need to be taken to progress court proceedings in the meantime. Obtaining a stay further allows mediating parties to focus their time and attention on the mediation process in order to achieve a favourable outcome.
As the Mediation Act provides for the court to make the stay order subject to any terms or conditions as the court thinks fit, parties may also apply for interim or supplementary orders to ensure their rights are adequately preserved pending the mediation.
Disclosure and Admissibility of Mediation Communication
Currently, the confidentiality of mediation discussions is governed by a mixture of common law privileges, equitable remedies and the parties’ agreement. In practice, this gives rise to uncertainty as to whether particular communications relating to mediation are confidential in a given situation.
The Mediation Act now makes clear that, subject to certain narrow exceptions, discussions during the course of mediation are confidential and cannot be disclosed to third parties or in court or arbitral proceedings. This protection extends to any communications, documents, or information provided in the course or for the purpose of mediation.
Recording a Mediated Settlement Agreement as a Singapore Court Order
Prior to the Mediation Act, parties would have to go through the arduous task of first commencing court proceedings to sue on the settlement agreement as a fresh cause of action, then obtaining judgment on the fresh action, and only thereafter commencing enforcement proceedings. This was seen as a major shortcoming of mediation.
With the introduction of the Mediation Act, however, the process of enforcing a settlement agreement resulting from mediation is substantially simplified and expedited. This is especially so where enforcement is sought in Singapore – parties need only apply to court to record the settlement agreement as a court order and the settlement agreement will be directly and immediately enforceable as a court order.
This ties in well with the fact that Singapore is also looking to ratify the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements. Upon Singapore’s ratification of the Convention, where a Singapore court is the chosen court under an exclusive choice of court agreement, the Singapore court judgment must be recognised and enforced by all the other contracting states.
Steps to Take Advantage of the Mediation Act
In order to take advantage of the amendments introduced under the Mediation Act, it is important to note the circumstances in which the Mediation Act would apply, namely:-
- The mediations must be wholly or partly conducted in Singapore; or
- If the mediations are conducted outside Singapore, they must be conducted pursuant to a mediation agreement which provides that the Mediation Act or Singapore law would apply to the
This means that parties who are engaged in foreign court proceedings may still enjoy some of the benefits introduced by the Mediation Act (such as the recording of the mediated settlement agreement as a Singapore court order) as long as the requisite circumstances and formal requirements are
Our Partners in our firm’s Dispute Resolution Practice are highly experienced in mediation and have been involved in numerous successful mediations involving high-value claims. We are happy to advice you further on the conduct of mediation in Singapore.