Launch of DisputeManager.com - A First of its Kind in Asia to Offer Alternative Dispute Resolutions Services Online

The Singapore Mediation Centre ("SMC") has been in the forefront in the promotion of mediation and other alternative dispute resolution ("ADR") services in Singapore since its launch on 16 August 1997. It is the SMC's mission to assist in creating an environment in which people involved in disputes can work together to find enduring solutions to their problems in an amicable and constructive manner, thus contributing towards the building of a harmonious society, and a thriving business community. As at 30 June 2002, 844 matters had been mediated at the Centre, with 76.9% of these matters being settled successfully. Over 60% of the matters mediated at the Centre were initiated by the parties themselves or by their solicitors. This clearly indicates that a significant number of disputants are becoming more aware of this alternative and have chosen mediation over litigation as their preferred mechanism for dispute resolution.

Today, the SMC with the support of the Ministry of Law and the Singapore Academy of Law ("SAL"), will officially launch DisputeManager.com - a portal that offers a comprehensive suite of online ADR services and that is the first of its kind in Asia. To be unveiled by the Honourable Chief Justice Yong Pung How, DisputeManager.com will revolutionise the way individuals and organisations resolve their conflicts.

Over 130 organisations have already declared their support for DisputeManager.com by registering as institutional clients. As institutional clients, these organisations will enjoy a 20% discount on the administrative fee payable by them for the SMC's mediation services when they register a case using DisputeManager.com's online registration facilities from 1 August 2002 to 31 July 2003.

Mr William Liu, Chairman of the Singapore Information Technology Dispute Resolution Advisory Committee ("SITDRAC") and President of GreenDot Capital said "As a body set up to promote the use of ADR, SITDRAC is pleased to support the launch of DisputeManager.com which brings ADR one step further, into the e-World where potential users can leverage on IT to resolve disputes. As a user, developer, provider and investor of IT product and services, GreenDot Capital is attracted by the benefits that DisputeManager.com could bring as an online ADR mechanism. These include convenience of access through the internet, round-the -clock availability, potential for cross boarder mediation, resulting in possible time and cost savings. I would encourage organisations, irrespective of their size, to avail themselves for this new service."

Globalisation has encouraged more and more businesses to market and sell their products and services to different parts of the world. As cross border commerce and e-commerce become mainstream business strategies, there arises a corresponding need to develop effective mechanisms for resolving disputes that arise from such transactions. This becomes even more crucial with Singapore's plans to become an e-commerce hub. A national infrastructure that encompasses the development of info-communications technology infrastructure, administrative and legal systems, and effective dispute resolution mechanisms to support e-commerce, would ensure that Singapore can compete more successfully in the global e-commerce marketplace.

DisputeManager.com has harnessed Internet technology (that has now become a quintessential way of life), to add value to the ADR processes being offered by the SMC. Parties can make use of DisputeManager.com's services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the convenience of their offices or homes. Instead of meeting in person, parties can make use of DisputeManager.com's online video-conferencing, Internet chat and shared application facilities. Thus parties (especially those based in different jurisdictions) can save on additional costs in terms of time and money.

At its inception, DisputeManager.com will offer the following services:
(1) e-Settlement, an automated ADR process in which the parties make offers to settle and agree to settle once certain conditions are met;
(2) Mediation, an ADR process in which a neutral person (called a mediator) facilitates negotiations between the parties to a dispute to help them resolve the dispute amicably;
(3) Neutral Evaluation, an ADR process in which a neutral person (called an evaluator) provides the parties to a dispute with a preliminary opinion on how the dispute may be decided by a court, after the evaluator has reviewed the submissions made by the parties and conducted a limited examination of the evidence to be relied on by the parties; and
(4) the Singapore Domain Name Dispute Resolution Service, an ADR process for resolving ".sg" domain name disputes.

Each service will come with step by step instructions and illustrations to help users familiarise themselves with the different ADR processes. Please see attached DisputeManager.com Fact Sheet for details of each service.

For a promotional period of 3 months (1 August 2002 to 31 October 2002), charges for the e-Settlement service will be waived. The object is to encourage members of the public and institutional users to use the system to resolve disputes involving monetary claims.

The Launch of DisputeManager.com will be held at 10.30am (please be reminded that all guests are to be seated by 10.15am) at the City Hall Chamber, Third Level, City Hall. Members of the Press are also invited to attend a press conference at the Senate Room, Singapore Academy of Law Main Office, Third Level, City Hall, after the Launch of DisputeManager.com.

PHANG HSIAO CHUNG 
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
SINGAPORE MEDIATION CENTRE
(6332 3928)

LOONG SENG ONN
DEPUTY DIRECTOR
SINGAPORE MEDIATION CENTRE 
(6332 4097)