The naming of a new United Nations treaty on mediation after Singapore honours a country which is synonymous with international trade as much as it is associated with the rule of law. The Singapore Convention on Mediation will make it easier for businesses to enforce mediated settlement agreements, whose results could be expected to improve cross-border trade. Till now, mediation has been held back because it did not have teeth in cross-border disputes. The new treaty makes a key difference by providing greater certainty of enforcement. Although the treaty will apply to all countries, it will draw people to Singapore because the country offers them an ecosystem for mediation that is fast, efficient and transparent, features that are recognised and respected internationally. The convention's future will lie in the intersection between trade and law.
Singapore has moved decisively to secure its place on the international mediation scene. Last year, it enacted a Mediation Act that lets agreements reached be recorded as orders of Singapore's courts, allowing parties to enforce their terms more easily. The value of mediation is that it allows organisations to handle disagreements with customers, vendors, suppliers and staff in order to prevent matters from escalating into long-drawn and expensive lawsuits that can affect productivity and even bottom lines. In pointing out these advantages, the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC) notes the advantages of a pragmatic solution on which the contending sides can agree. The disputing parties avoid legal wrangles in which they face the risk of one of them being handed down a ruling against its favour. More than 3,600 matters have been mediated since the SMC's inauguration in 1997. The rate of settlement is about 70 per cent, and 90 per cent of them were resolved within one working day.