More choosing mediation over court proceedings to solve disputes

More people in Singapore are turning to mediation in place of lawsuits to solve disputes because it saves them time and hefty legal costs and gives them a say in the outcome. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
More people in Singapore are turning to mediation in place of lawsuits to solve disputes because it saves them time and hefty legal costs and gives them a say in the outcome. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - More people here are turning to mediation in place of lawsuits to solve disputes because it saves them time and hefty legal costs and gives them a say in the outcome.

Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC), which deals with many of the bigger cases, saw its highest number of cases mediated last year since its inception in 1997.

A total of 337 cases were resolved through mediation last year. This is more than double the number of cases mediated in 2012.

"Mediation has gained much traction with businesses and individuals, especially when they realise the amount of costs and time they save by settling disagreements out of court," said the centre's executive director, Mr Loong Seng Onn.

"As awareness of mediation and its benefits spreads, we expect more businesses to choose mediation as a means of conflict resolution."

Disputes on construction matters rose by 75 per cent from the previous year. Disputes brought up by companies or shareholders and disagreements from the sale and supply of goods and services also saw significant increases.

"My clients from the construction industry generally prefer to have their cases mediated as the cases are held on a confidential basis and can have very much faster results than going to the courts," said lawyer Lawrence Tan, a partner at Eldan Law.

"The quick resolution of disputes through mediation will enable my clients to focus their energies on the next project. Earning new money can be better than fighting over old money," he added.

Parties that have gone to the centre for mediation have a three in four chance of settling their dispute. More than 90 per cent of its successful cases were resolved within a day.

jantai@sph.com.sg