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Singapore Convention on Mediation – Consultation Paper

The submission to the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department in relation to its Consultation Paper on the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation was prepared by the Law Council of Australia. 

The purpose of the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, known as the Singapore Convention on Mediation (the Convention), is noted on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law website in the following terms:

The Convention is an instrument for the facilitation of international trade and the promotion of mediation as an alternative and effective method of resolving trade disputes. Being a binding international instrument, it is expected to bring certainty and stability to the international framework on mediation, thereby contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), mainly the SDG 16.1

At the signing ceremony, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described the Convention as the “missing third piece” in the international dispute resolution enforcement framework:

Today, for cross border disputes, many businesses rely either on arbitration, enforced via the New York Convention, or on litigation. The Singapore Convention on Mediation is the missing third piece in the international dispute resolution enforcement framework. Businesses will benefit from greater flexibility, efficiency and lower costs, while states can enhance access to justice by facilitating the enforcement of mediated agreements.2

The Convention was adopted by consensus by the United Nations on 20 December 2018 and signed in Singapore on 7 August 2019. The Convention entered into force on 12 September 2020. It is to be noted that the Convention is the result of negotiation and compromise amongst State representatives which occurred over a period of five years. Any resulting anomalies may be cured by future domestic legislation or the adoption of a modified Model Law.3

The Convention applies to an agreement resulting from mediation and concluded in writing by parties to resolve an international commercial dispute.4 The Convention does not apply to settlement agreements concluded to resolve personal, family or household disputes or disputes involving inheritance or employment law. Importantly, the Convention does not apply to settlement agreements that have been approved by a court or concluded in the course of proceedings before a court and that are enforceable as a judgment in the State of that court or settlement agreements that have been recorded and are enforceable as an arbitral award.5

The Law Council supports Australia signing the Convention and provides background and identifies relevant issues but raises no specific concerns which would preclude Australia becoming a signatory to and ratifying the Convention. The Law Council does not suggest that any reservations be made pursuant to Article 8 of the Convention.

You can read the full submission below.
 


1 United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (New York, 2018) (the "Singapore Convention on Mediation")’ United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

2 Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at Singapore Convention Signing Ceremony and ConferencePrime Minister’s Office Singapore (7 August 2019). (‘Speech by PM Lee Hsein Loong’)

3 Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law 51st Session (25 June-13 July 2018), UN GAOR 73rd sess, Supp No 17, UN Doc A/73/17 (31 July 2018) Annex II, 56 (‘UNCITRAL Report – Annex II – UNCITRAL Model Law’).

4 The term “commercial” has a wide interpretation so as to cover matters arising from all relationships of a commercial nature; see Article 1 UNCITRAL Model Law; UNCITRAL Report of Working Group II (Arbitration and Conciliation) on the work of its Sixty-fourth session (New York, 1-5 February 2016), UN GAOR, 49th sess, UN Doc A/CN.9/867 (10 February 2016) at 110 (‘UNCITRAL Working Group II Report’).

5 Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, opened for signature 7 August 2019 (entered into force 12 September 2020) (‘Singapore Convention on Mediation’) Article 1 – Scope of Application 19.
 

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