– Twenty-six organisations from the service, property, transport, health, food, utilities and media industries (see ) are the first to sign the Singapore Mediation Charter where they pledge to consider mediation as a first resort to resolve their organisation’s disputes.
The Singapore Mediation Charter is an initiative by the Singapore Mediation Centre (“SMC”) to encourage businesses to settle their disputes amicably rather than battling it out in court. SMC will endeavour to obtain more signatories to the Singapore Mediation Charter and to continue to work with the signatories to promote mediation. Since 1997, SMC has handled more than 2,000 disputes with claims totalling over $2.69 billion. About 75% of these disputes were settled, generally within a day.
Mediation is a voluntary process and the parties involved apply to SMC for help. Cases can also be referred to SMC for mediation by the courts. The mediators assigned by SMC are usually former judges, senior lawyers or professionals who are specialists in various fields. SMC currently has close to 300 mediators.
SMC has also worked with the Ministry of Health, the Singapore Medical Council, the Council for Estate Agencies, the Singapore Sports Council and the Council for Private Education to implement mediation schemes to address disputes in these specific areas. For instance, disagreements over clinical services between health care providers and patients can be resolved by experienced mediators who are neutral parties.
“The number of mediation cases facilitated by SMC is on the rise,” said Mr Loong Seng Onn, Executive Director of SMC. “Through SMC, more than 4,000 parties have voluntarily engaged in mediation and resolved their disputes in a private manner thus avoiding the costs associated with adjudicatory processes. Globally, there is also a growing appreciation of the time and financial savings, and possibly improved relationships obtainable from mediated settlements. One of the key advantages of mediation is that parties have control of the outcome and they can come up with their own pragmatic solutions to resolve the dispute.”
Since 2002, SMC has trained people from more than 50 countries worldwide on the use of mediation. Tan Tock Seng Hospital (“TTSH”) and the National Healthcare Group (“NHG”), both signatories to the Singapore Mediation Charter, have found such training beneficial. The National Healthcare Group recently engaged SMC to customise a workshop for 22 of its medical staff and is considering whether a mediation course should be included in the core curriculum for training junior doctors.
Since 2006, Tan Tock Seng Hospital has incorporated mediation as part of its complaint resolution process. Half of the hospital’s clinical communicators who are senior nursing staff and doctors have attended SMC’s mediation course. “In a dispute, parties are often emotive and need a neutral person to hear them out and understand their needs. Mediation skills have helped our staff to build rapport and explain why certain things are done in a certain way,” said Ms Yong May Chin, Assistant Director, Clinical Standards & Improvement, Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
Mr Dave Carlson, Chief Executive Officer, Energy Market Company said, “The Singapore Electricity Market Rules, which govern the wholesale electricity market in Singapore, require disputes among market participants to be resolved through mediation first if initial negotiations fail, before arbitration is considered. As the operator of the wholesale electricity market, Energy Market Company has thus been committed to mediation since the start of the market in 2003. We recognise the value of mediation as a cost-effective way of resolving disputes and preserving relationships, and are pleased to further reinforce our commitment by signing the Singapore Mediation Charter today.”
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Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC) is a non-profit organisation established in 1997 to provide commercial mediation services. It is structured as a company limited by the guarantee of the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL). With the support of the Singapore Judiciary, the SAL, the Ministry of Law and various professional and trade organisations, SMC has successfully spearheaded the mediation movement in Singapore and continues to promote the use of mediation and other non-confrontational dispute resolution methods. Over 2,000 civil disputes of all types and involving different quantum of claims (up to multi-million dollar disputes) have been referred for mediation at SMC. An impressive 74% of these have successfully reached amicable settlements with more than 90% of these settled within one day. For more information on SMC, please visit