By George Lim SC, Chairman of SIMC
Perhaps we will all remember 2019 fondly as a watershed year for mediation. The Singapore Convention on Mediation needs no further introduction. 46 countries inked their commitment to the Convention on signing day, another five did so a month later – an unprecedented outcome. The latest country to sign is Rwanda, bringing the number of signatories to 52.
Ratifying the Convention
The next step is the coming into force of the convention – this happens six months after ratification by three states In Singapore, the Singapore Convention on Mediation Bill was tabled for its first reading on 6 January 2020, a mere five months after the signing ceremony took place on 7 August 2019.
Elsewhere, Fiji is also taking steps to implement the Convention in its own jurisdiction. In India, the Supreme Court has set up a committee to recommend reforms to its mediation law, a move aimed at making India more attractive for foreign investment. Some of SIMC’s international mediators are part of this committee – Mr Sriram Panchu, Ms Laila Ollapally and Mr Anil Xavier. We would like to congratulate them on their appointment. We look forward to supporting them, as well as dispute resolution professionals, governments and justice departments to bring countries closer to a signing and ratification.
Building capacity and relationships in the region
On this note, our capacity building initiatives in the region will continue for this year. In 2019 we ran specialist mediators’ workshops in Singapore, Bangalore and Shenzhen. (The latter two workshops were organised in collaboration with our partners, CAMP Centre for Arbitration and Mediation, and Benchmark Chambers International respectively.) We also ran various workshops for government departments in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, and for a small group of facilitators from the Asian Development Bank. This year, the first specialist mediator workshop will be held in two weeks’ time in New Delhi. Other training programs are also planned for in cities such as Seoul and Manila.
India Specialist Mediators Appointment Ceremony on August 29, 2019 in New Delhi, held in partnership with CAMP Centre for Arbitration and Mediation.
Our international outreach activities will continue to be among our top priorities this year as we believe collaboration to be essential in a volatile world. In 2019, we were honoured to sign Memoranda of Understanding with four partners respectively: the China International Economic & Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC), the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board (KCAB) International, the Permanent Forum of China Construction Law (PFCCL), and the Beijing Arbitration Commission/ Beijing International Arbitration Center (BAC/BIAC). We also deepened our relationship with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT)/ China Chamber of International Commerce (CCOIC) Mediation Center with an MOU to set up a mediator panel to resolve Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)-related disputes.
SIMC in 2020
It was an unusually busy start of the year for us too. We received delegations from Uzbekistan, Abu Dhabi and Japan in January, a month typically lost in past year nostalgia and festive hangover. However, these activities demonstrate a healthy interest in harmonious dispute settlement and our capabilities in supporting their vision to build the same back home.
In staff news, we welcome Mr Teh Joo Lin as Deputy CEO of SIMC. Joo Lin joins us from the Ministry of Law, where he was part of the team involved in, among other projects, the Mediation Act 2017 and UNCITRAL WGII, which culminated in the Singapore Convention on Mediation. He is a former Justices’ Law Clerk with the Supreme Court of Singapore and has background in both law and communications.
Watch this space!
We foresee seismic shifts in 2020, with unfolding developments in third-party funding, investor-state dispute settlement, a wider acceptance of hybrid processes and e-justice. Stay tuned as we bring you fresh updates in the coming year.
We also encourage you to get in touch with us for potential cases; we will do what we can to get a mediation organised. We are very close to hitting 100 cases and your support is pivotal in helping us achieve the hundredth-and-beyond target!
Finally, Save the Date! We are excited about the second Singapore Convention Week from 28 Aug – 4 Sep 2020. The Week is anchored by the Singapore Convention Conference and we look forward to hosting each of you in Singapore soon.
Thank you and all the best for 2020. We value your friendship and look forward to strengthening our collaborations on best practices in dispute resolution.