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Singapore Mediation Centre to focus on resolving business disputes

SMC’s mediation caseload has seen steady increase as more businesses prefer mediation over lawsuits.

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC) announced that it will focus on resolving business disputes as part of its new brand identity, at its annual appreciation lunch on Friday (Aug 1).

Disputing parties will be able to access specialised mediators who are subject matter experts in a particular field — for example, construction or healthcare, which have seen an increase in disputes over recent years. SMC will offer disputing parties a list of mediators in 10 areas of industry specialisation starting from Friday.

With more businesses preferring mediation over lawsuits, SMC’s mediation caseload has also been increasing steadily, growing 38 per cent in 2013 from the previous year.

SMC's latest initiative follows two new mediation services introduced this April: the Pilot Healthcare Scheme — which offers subsidised mediation services for disputes between patients and healthcare institutes — as well as mediations for disputes arising from the Personal Data Protection Act.

SMC Chairperson, Justice Belinda Ang, also pushed to make mediation a core practice. This means mediators with subject matter expertise will be able to make mediation a full-time profession.

Mediators will also be able to gain skills through volunteer mediation schemes, one of them being mediating Muslim divorce cases at the Syariah Court of Singapore, which will begin from Oct 1.

Finally, in addition to SMC, two new mediation bodies will be formed: the Singapore International Mediation Centre, and the Singapore International Mediation Institute.

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