Press Release: Singapore International Mediation Centre officially launched

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New centre to focus on mediating international commercial disputes on the regional and global stage

5 th November 2014 – Today, the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) was officially launched by the Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and the Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam SC.

SIMC will be the first centre of its kind to focus on mediating international commercial disputes with a panel of internationally-respected mediators that includes luminaries such as co-author of the world’s bestselling book on negotiation, Getting to Yes, Dr William Ury, and Singapore’s Ambassador-At-Large, Professor Tommy Koh, as well as other leading mediators drawn from Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe and North and South America. Together with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) and the Singapore International Commercial Court, SIMC will play a key role in positioning Singapore as the premier destination for legal services and resolution of disputes in Asia and in the world.

Speaking at the launch event, which was attended by about 230 guests including members of the judiciary as well as local and international mediators, arbitrators, dispute lawyers, corporate counsel, and representatives of chambers of commerce, the Chief Justice said, “These are exciting times for cross-border trade and investment. However, with every commercial transaction, complex or otherwise, there comes the risk of disagreement and dispute and SIMC will take its place among other service providers working to meet the needs of consumers in this environment. Mediators based in Singapore and elsewhere will also benefit from the establishment of SIMC, as this will open up new opportunities for them to expand their portfolio of cross-border work.”

The Minister of Law, Mr K Shanmugam SC, said, “The launch of SIMC is a major milestone in Singapore’s development as a regional dispute resolution hub. SIMC’s mediation services will complement our successful arbitration sector and upcoming enhanced international litigation capabilities provided by the Singapore International Commercial Court. Our focus on offering this complete suite of dispute resolution options for international commercial cases sets us apart from other jurisdictions, and enhances our standing as a one-stop dispute resolution centre.”

Chairman of SIMC’s Board, Mr Edwin Glasgow QC said, “Mediation is fast gaining popularity across the world as an efficient and effective way of resolving disputes. It can be used on its own or as a complement to court litigation and arbitration to help the parties arrive at practical solutions that may be non-legal in nature, but which should be constructively suitable to their business interests and real needs. SIMC will provide a platform to help its users bridge the gaps between them and their business partners as well as navigate between other dispute resolution options.”

Deputy Chairman of SIMC’s Board, Mr George Lim SC commented, “By gathering the world’s top mediators, providing professional appointing authority and case management services, and partnering with other alternative dispute resolution service providers to offer international services and new products, SIMC offers a unique value proposition to the dispute resolution landscape. I believe that sophisticated international business users will increasingly see the value of mediation to resolve their disputes in a timely, inexpensive and practical way. When they do, SIMC will be there for them.”

At the launch event, SIMC announced an Arbitration-Mediation-Arbitration (or Arb-Med-Arb) service that it will be jointly offering with SIAC. Under the SIAC-SIMC Arb-Med-Arb service, a dispute may be referred to arbitration and then held in abeyance while mediation is attempted. If parties are able to settle their dispute through mediation, their mediated settlement may be recorded as a consent award. A consent award is generally accepted as an arbitral award, and, subject to any local legislation and/or requirements, is generally enforceable in approximately 150 countries under the New York Convention, an international convention on the enforcement of arbitral awards. If parties are unable to settle their dispute through mediation, they may continue with the arbitration proceedings.

Mr Lucien Wong, Chairman and Senior Partner of Allen & Gledhill LLP, who is also Chairman of SIAC and a member of SIMC’s Board, said, “The SIAC-SIMC Arb-Med-Arb service is an innovative product that will enhance Singapore’s attractiveness as a choice venue for international users of alternative dispute resolution services. It has been designed to provide maximum value at minimal cost, efficiency coupled with flexibility and confidentiality combined with enforceability, all within an institutional framework and rules that incorporate global best practices. SIAC is pleased to offer this service together with SIMC.”

Mr Michael McIlwrath, Global Chief Counsel for GE, Oil & Gas, who spoke at a half-day mediation seminar organised by Maxwell Chambers and SIMC before the launch event, said, “As a frequent user of mediation, I see mediation as a valuable tool to keep risks and costs of disputes under control as companies expand into global markets, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. SIMC’s launch is timely and the services it offers will help parties bridge the gaps between them in a quick and effective manner. I congratulate SIMC for its innovation and thought-leadership in the largely conservative field of dispute resolution.”

In the months ahead, SIMC will sign Memoranda of Understanding with other mediation centres in the region, to promote and develop mediation in Asia. It will further take part in major events in 2015, amongst others, the ABA Asia Pacific International Mediation Summit in New Delhi and the IBA 4 th Asia Pacific Regional Forum in Singapore.

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