Five more countries sign UN treaty on mediation

Five more countries have inked the Singapore Convention on Mediation, bringing the total number of signatory countries to 51, Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong said on Tuesday.

This strong show of support for the UN treaty since it was opened for signing about four months ago demonstrates the commitment towards multilateralism and a rules-based international order, he added.

Mr Tong gave the update on Tuesday at the official launch of the Singapore Office of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

The five countries - Armenia, Chad, Ecuador, Gabon and Guinea-Bissau - join others such as the United States, China, India and South Korea, which signed the convention in August.

The convention, the launch of the PCA office as well as the opening of Maxwell Chambers Suites, where the office is located, were key milestone events in international dispute resolution which took place in Singapore this year, said Mr Tong.

Since the PCA set up its office here last year it has administered 28 proceedings and concluded nine hearings.

The global arbitration body, founded in 1899, is the oldest institution for international dispute resolution in the world, and Singapore first had recourse to its services in 2003 for a land reclamation dispute with Malaysia, and again in 2012, for the development charges on former Malayan Railway Land.

PCA Secretary-General Hugo H. Siblesz said: "PCA's arrangement with Singapore has made PCA's services more accessible to parties and disputes in this part of the world."

Mr Tong said the Singapore Convention on Mediation, which aims to promote the use of mediation in settling cross-border commercial disputes, is also relevant to the work of the PCA.

He added that the Ministry of Law will be organising the second Singapore Convention Conference on Sept 1 next year.

 
 
 
 

These developments, he said, underscore the importance of dispute resolution and Singapore's role at the centre of it.

To this end, the Ministry of Law also regularly reviews the dispute resolution regime, he added.

Most recently, he said, it launched a public consultation on proposals to amend the International Arbitration Act, including whether to give powers to an arbitral tribunal and the courts so they can enforce the confidentiality requirements that are common in an arbitration.

It is also looking at whether conditional fee agreements should be allowed for international arbitration proceedings, among others. Such agreements involve a lawyer receiving payment of legal fees only if the claim is successful.

Correction note: The article has been edited to reflect that since the PCA set up its office here last year it has administered 28 proceedings and concluded nine hearings.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2019, with the headline 'Five more countries sign UN treaty on mediation'. Print Edition | Subscribe