The Singapore International Mediation Centre (“SIMC”) and Japan International Mediation Centre (“JIMC”) have launched the JIMC-SIMC Joint Covid-19 Protocol to provide cross-border businesses, including companies along the Singapore-Japan corridor, with better access to mediation and its benefits.
For your reference, mediation is a voluntary process where parties engage the assistance of a neutral third party (i.e. mediator) to facilitate negotiations between the parties, with a view to resolving the parties’ disputes amicably and privately. Some benefits of mediation include the following:
- Mediation is an inexpensive and quick alternative dispute resolution process which helps parties to resolve their disputes expeditiously and economically without being engaged in protracted legal proceedings.
- Parties to a mediation are free to explore different options and arrive at holistic, flexible and creative solutions in respect of their disputes.
- Unlike litigation and arbitration, the outcome of which depend on the court’s and the tribunal’s findings on facts, parties in a mediation determine the outcome of their disputes. This is because parties have to reach a consensus before entering into any settlement agreements.
The JIMC-SIMC Joint Covid-19 Protocol is the first joint mediation protocol between SIMC and JIMC and the first known Covid-19 mediation protocol between two international centres. It entered into force on 12 September 2020 and will be in force until 11 September 2021.
The key features of the JIMC-SIMC Joint Covid-19 Protocol are as follows:
1. It applies to all disputes, whether or not the disputes are caused by the pandemic or by legislation relating to the pandemic.
2. Mediations may be filed at either JIMC or SIMC by paying a low JPY20,000 or SGD250 filing fee. JIMC and SIMC will jointly manage mediations.
3. Cases will be resolved by two experienced mediators (one nominated by each Centre).
4. Parties will have access to mediation at fees starting from SGD6,500 and capped at SGD16,000 per party, regardless of the value in dispute.
5. Mediation can be conducted online to overcome the current limitations on travel.
6. Settlement agreements may be enforced under the Singapore Convention on Mediation in countries that have ratified the Convention, including Singapore.
5. Parties may wish to proceed with mediation under the JIMC-SIMC Joint Covid-19 Protocol if the dispute involves Japanese parties. According to the SIMC Press Release, the unique aspects of the JIMC-SIMC Joint Covid-19 Protocol will ensure that users are set up for a successful mediation. For example, in a mediation between a Japanese and non-Japanese party, the comediation aspect allows for the appointment of mediators who are familiar with different legal and cultural contexts; mediators may be a Japanese-speaking and international mediator selected from both centres’ established panels of mediators with skillsets to address any given dispute.
6. According to SIMC Chairman Mr George Lim C., “The Joint Protocol offers parties the best of both worlds as they can discuss their disputes with mediators who understand the unique aspects of their respective cultures and jurisdictions.”
7. Meanwhile, chief director of JIMC Haruo Okada said “It is a great pleasure for JIMC, which was founded on the background of mediation culture, to contribute in the field of international dispute resolution through the joint protocol with SIMC in the chaotic world of Covid-19.”