International mediation treaty takes effect Sept 12

Qatar is third country to ratify UN convention named after Singapore; Fiji did so last month

The Singapore Convention on Mediation, a United Nations (UN) treaty named after the country, will come into force on Sept 12 this year, the UN said yesterday.

This comes after Qatar ratified the international treaty - also known as the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation - on Thursday.

It is the third country to do so, following Singapore and Fiji, which ratified the treaty on Feb 25.

According to the convention's provisions, the treaty comes into force when at least three countries have ratified it.

The convention makes it easier for commercial parties in a dispute to seek enforcement of international mediated settlement agreements by applying directly to the courts of countries that have ratified the treaty.

Through mediation, parties in a cross-border dispute can attempt to negotiate a new deal, facilitated by a neutral third-party mediator, to salvage a commercial relationship which would otherwise disintegrate if the litigation or arbitration routes are taken.

Currently, because a settlement agreement made in one country has no legal force in another, a party seeking to enforce a mediated settlement agreement in another country or multiple countries will have to commence legal proceedings in each country.

This can potentially be costly and time-consuming, especially for international settlement agreements.

Under the convention, a party seeking enforcement of a mediated settlement agreement can apply directly to the courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty. This allows businesses to easily enforce such settlement agreements across borders.

On Aug 7 last year, 46 countries signed the convention, including economic heavyweights the United States and China.

Singapore, represented by Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, was the first to sign the treaty.

Since then, 52 countries have signed the convention.

The Singapore authorities had previously expressed hope that the convention would put Singapore on the world map for mediation.

In recent years, the Government has moved to establish Singapore as an international dispute resolution centre, including setting up the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and the Singapore International Commercial Court.

It had also been ramping up efforts to boost the mediation scene in the country, including expanding the dispute resolution centre, Maxwell Chambers, to meet the growing demand for dispute resolution work.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2020, with the headline International mediation treaty takes effect Sept 12. Subscribe