The Honourable Judge of Appeal, Justice Andrew Phang
The Honourable Justice Andrew Ang
Distinguished Guests, Friends of Singapore Mediation Centre and Ladies and Gentlemen
1. It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you to the Singapore Mediation Centre’s (SMC) Annual Appreciation Lunch and Launch of the Singapore Mediation Charter.
2. In our continuing efforts to create better awareness of mediation, the Singapore Mediation Charter was conceived. Today marks the launch of this initiative.
3. The Singapore Mediation Charter is a pledge that organisations in Singapore undertake, signaling their public commitment to promote mediation through five core actions. This includes considering the use of mediation as a first resort to resolving the organisations’ disputes and engaging their staff in programmes that equip them with an understanding of mediation.
4. I am pleased to share with you that 26 leading organisations from various public and private sectors have come on board as signatories to the Singapore Mediation Charter. To all 26 organisations, I welcome you as our valued partners and hope you will reap the many benefits of mediation.
5. When involved in disputes, some parties are reluctant to initiate mediation proceedings for fear that their case may be perceived as being weak. To avoid this perception, as signatories, organisations can use the Singapore Mediation Charter as justification to pursue mediation. By utilising this dispute resolution process, organisations will save significant time and cost, as well as have control over the outcome of the settlement. The Singapore Mediation Charter will be an ongoing project and SMC will endeavour to bring on board more signatories in the coming years.
6. Apart from the launch of the Charter, today’s occasion is also to honour our important partners. SMC has been fortunate to have a very passionate group of mediators. We have striven to initiate projects to give you more opportunities to mediate, enhance your skills and to extend your networks with international counterparts.
7. One of these initiatives was the establishment of the Asian Mediation Association (AMA). The grouping of mediation centers in the region offers a platform for mediators to meet biennially to network and discuss developments in mediation best practices. I understand that the next AMA Conference will be held in Hong Kong in 2013 and we hope you will continue to leverage on this for your professional development.
8. SMC’s seminal publication - ‘An Asian Perspective on Mediation’ – offers a detailed comparative study of Western and Asian perspectives on mediation. It also highlights practical strategies on how to mediate more effectively in an Asian context. In seeking to further your knowledge, this book will be a useful compendium to your library.
9. New mediation schemes have also been developed. SMC collaborated with the Ministry of Health, the Singapore Medical Council, the Council for Estate Agencies, and the Council for Private Education to establish bespoke mediation schemes. As more cases come on stream, this array of schemes will give you more avenues to practise mediation and develop industry expertise.
10. SMC will continue to enlarge its footprint in the dispute resolution landscape. In our efforts to reach out to the next generation of lawyers, SMC will be running a mediation skills elective module at the Preparatory Course leading to Part B of the Singapore Bar Examinations. SMC will also intensify its promotional activities as well as strengthen its thought leadership initiatives. In this regard, I am pleased to share with you that mediation and SMC will feature soon in Mediacorp’s drama series ‘The Pupil’. A Mediation Lecture Series will also kick off through a collaboration between SMC, the Singapore Management University and Harry Elias Partnership. In addition, SMC is working with the International Mediation Institute to develop a Qualifying Assessment Programme for SMC mediators. This will enable you to advance your training and be recognised globally. We will keep you informed of these and other future developments.
11. Today we stand tall with over 300 mediators, 47 MOU partners, 5 industry scheme partners, and numerous training clients in Singapore and overseas. You have been our ambassadors, acted as our mediators, recommended cases to SMC, served in committees, believed in and helped us in our training programmes, and supported us in many other activities. SMC has come a long way since its inception in 1997 and our achievements have only been possible with your commitment, support and service to mediation.
12. Specifically, we would like to thank the Judiciary: The Supreme Court continues to actively send SMC weekly case lists for us to encourage parties to try mediation in appropriate cases; and The Subordinate Courts for partnering us to provide cases at the Small Claims Tribunal and the Primary Dispute Resolution Centre for our Associate Mediators to mediate. We also thank the Ministry of Law and the Singapore Academy of Law, without whom SMC would not be where it is today. SMC gratefully acknowledges your invaluable contributions to the development of mediation in Singapore. We cannot thank all our Mediators, Singapore Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy Panelists and Neutral Evaluators enough for your shared passion and your generous contribution of many hours of time to the development of the Centre. To members on our Board of Advisors, Advisory Committee on Construction Mediation, Construction Adjudicator Accreditation Committee and Singapore Information Technology Dispute Resolution Advisory Committee, your experience, wisdom and guidance have been indispensable for SMC’s growth. To our MOU and scheme partners and clients, we are appreciative of your support and we look forward to strengthening our bonds.
13. Last but not least, I would like to thank Justice Andrew Ang who recently stepped down as Chairman. Since 2006, under his leadership, SMC has become an established name in mediation. On behalf of the Board of Directors and Secretariat, I wish Justice Ang all the very best as he moves on to Chair the Legal Heritage Committee of the Singapore Academy of Law.
14. And to all of you, thank you once again for your contributions to SMC and for making the time to join us today. I wish you all an enjoyable lunch.