SINGAPORE: The public's feedback on a proposed Mediation Bill is wanted, said the Law Ministry on Thursday (Mar 17).
According to the ministry's press release, Singapore offers international parties a full suite of dispute resolution services for commercial cross-border disputes. The Bill, when enacted, will provide further legislative support for international commercial mediation.
The Bill will apply to all types of mediation including international commercial mediation and will strengthen the framework for enforcement of mediated settlements conducted in Singapore.
It will also codify certain issues currently dealt with under common law such as confidentiality of communications in the context of mediation. "This will provide greater certainty and clarity for commercial parties who opt to conduct their mediation in Singapore," the ministry said.
The key features of the Bill fall into the following four categories:
- Recording of Mediated Settlement Agreement as Court Order
In order to strengthen the enforceability of mediation agreements, the Bill contains a provision to allow parties to apply to court by agreement to record a written and signed mediated settlement agreement as an order of court if the mediation has been (a) administered by a designated mediation service provider and (b) conducted by a certified mediator.
- Confidentiality of Mediation Proceedings
The general duty of confidentiality applicable in mediation and the circumstances in which disclosure may take place are clearly outlined in the Bill. In addition, it clarifies the circumstances in which a piece of mediation communication may be admitted as evidence in court.
- Stay of Court Proceedings
The draft Bill will provide the statutory basis to allow parties to apply for a stay of court proceedings to ensure that their legal positions in any court proceedings are preserved whilst they enter the mediation process. The court may also make further orders to preserve the rights of all parties pending the outcome of the mediation process.
- Legal Profession Act Exceptions
Exceptions under the Legal Profession Act currently applicable to arbitration will be extended to mediation. While mediation is not commonly understood to involve the practice of law, in certain cases the relevant law may be discussed during the mediation session. This amendment will make clear that participation by foreign mediators and foreign-qualified counsel in such mediation sessions will not amount to the unauthorised practice of Singapore law.
The public consultation will conclude on Apr 28 this year. Those interested in contributing their feedback can email the ministry at MLAW_Consultation@mlaw.gov.sg or via this address: Legal Industry Division, Ministry of Law, 100 High Street #08-02, The Treasury, Singapore 179434.