Managing Partner & Head of Dispute Resolution, Bazul Ashhab, has been featured in an Asian Legal Business (ALB) article titled “Mediation Central”. Highlighting the Singapore Convention on Mediation, set to come into effect in September this year, the article discusses the boost this convention has on Singapore’s image as a dispute resolution hub; how it fits culturally in an Asian setting, as well as how it sets Singapore up for further changes in her legal landscape.
In 2019, 46 different countries signed the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, also known as the Singapore Convention on Mediation. Bazul tells ALB that the new convention has clear benefits. “It paves the way for mediated commercial settlement agreements to be enforced across borders through a simplified process, giving credibility to mediated settlements. The coming into effect of the convention allows the enforcing party to go directly to a court in a state party to seek enforcement rather than spending considerable time and resources to obtain a judgement or award for breach of contract under the dispute resolution clauses found in the settlement agreement, and then thereafter having to apply for that judgment to be recognised in a foreign jurisdiction. This I believe will lead to a reduction of defaults of settlement agreement,” says Bazul.
He added and predicts that “mediation complements arbitration as it allows users of Singapore arbitration to make a serious attempt at settlement supported by specialised institution, like SIMC (Singapore International Mediation Centre), and trained mediators with a proven track record for reaching settlement. The mediation convention now gives teeth to enforce any settlement reached which will give even more reason to choose Singapore as a preferred arbitration venue. I expect arbitration cases to increase with the signing of the Singapore mediation convention.”
With regards to the cultural suitability of the convention, Bazul agrees that mediation is a good fit for the region as the preservation of relationships is highly-valued and embedded as a priority in most Asian cultures. “As mediation is now increasingly seen as a quick, fair, and effective dispute resolution mechanism to resolve even complex commercial disputes (this is seen by the fact that 46 states had signed the Singapore Convention on Mediation during the official signing ceremony), we expect to see rapid growth in the adoption of mediation as one of the main modes of resolving international commercial disputes in Asia. I believe mediation dispute resolving professionals will be engaged as a first resort rather than last resort,” he comments.
Also weighing in on the possibility of future Singapore-led developments, he believes that the current landscape is primed for further legal changes in the future. “In Singapore, we have a government which is pro-business and deeply understands the need to ensure Singapore remains relevant to the rest of the world and region. There is a constant vigilance on what the global business community needs and ensuring that need is in the interest of Singapore’s economy. A close working collaboration between the government and lawyers assist in quickly introducing business-friendly laws. I expect for these reasons there to be more Singapore-led legal conventions,” he concludes.
The full article appears in ALB’s April 2020 edition.