27 May 2020
On 18 May 2020, the Singapore International Mediation Centre (“SIMC”) launched the SIMC Covid-19 Protocol (“Protocol”) to provide businesses with an expedited, economical and effective route to resolve any cross-border commercial disputes during the Covid-19 pandemic period. The Protocol shall be in force until 31 December 2020.
The expedited mediation introduced by the Protocol allows businesses to focus resources on dealing with other challenges, instead of conducting potentially lengthy and expensive legal proceedings. This will put businesses in a stronger position to recover amid growing economic uncertainty.
Some key features of the Protocol are set out below:
- Parties may refer disputes for mediation under the Protocol by applying on SIMC’s website and paying a S$250 filing fee.
- Mediation will be organised within 10 working days.
- Parties may pay reduced fees depending on amount in dispute. For example, for dispute amounts of less than S$1 million, each party pays S$3,000, inclusive of mediator’s fees. SIMC will exercise flexibility in appropriate cases.
- Cases are matched with experienced mediators to facilitate settlement.
- Mediation is conducted online.
The Protocol is designed to complement legislation on Covid-19 in Singapore, such as the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 (“Act”) which imposes a moratorium on certain legal actions. Under the Act, parties in Singapore who enjoy relief can elect to mediate at any time, even after an Assessor’s determination. This is of importance as contractual obligations are not absolved under the Act’s temporary relief measures.
Settlement agreements concluded from mediation are binding and are enforceable under the law. Such settlement agreements may be recorded as court orders under the Mediation Act 2017 or enforced under the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, also known as the Singapore Convention on Mediation (from 12 September 2020 in countries that have ratified the Convention).
The following materials are available from the SIMC website www.simc.com.sg:
- Press release: New mediation protocol for global businesses to manage disputes during the Covid-19 pandemic
- SIMC Covid-19 Protocol
In addition, we have a cross-disciplinary Covid-19 Legal Task Force consisting of Partners across various practice areas to provide rapid assistance. Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.