International settlement agreements arising from mediation relating to commercial disputes enforceable as judgments from 12 September 2020
28 September 2020
On 12 September 2020, the Singapore Convention on Mediation Act 2020 (“Act”) came into operation. The Act implements the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, commonly known as the Singapore Convention on Mediation (“Convention”), which also came into effect on 12 September 2020. The Convention is an international treaty on mediation that addresses the need for an effective means to enforce cross-border commercial mediated settlement agreements. Please refer to our article titled “Singapore Convention on Mediation in force from 12 September 2020” for more on the Convention.
An overview of the Act is set out here.
The Act applies to international settlement agreements resulting from mediation, concluded by parties to resolve a commercial dispute, except where the agreement has been approved by a court or concluded in the course of court proceedings and are enforceable as judgments, as arbitral awards or relates to certain specified subject matters, such as family law. The procedure and the framework under the Act are similar to that relating to the enforcement of awards under the International Arbitration Act.
Recording agreement as order of court
The Act provides a “court order mechanism” for parties seeking to enforce or invoke their settlement agreement, enabling a party to apply to the High Court to record its settlement agreement as an order of court, which can then be used for enforcement or as a defence. The court may take into account an exhaustive list of grounds to refuse an application and, where a settlement agreement has been recorded as an order of court, a party is able to apply to set aside the court order under grounds set out in the Act.
Obtaining a court order under the Act does not extinguish the underlying mediated settlement agreement, preserving the agreement’s status. Parties’ legal rights and remedies existing outside of the Convention will be preserved, meaning that reliance on contractual principles to enforce or invoke a settlement agreement is still possible.
The Act also makes related amendments to the Mediation Act and the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (“SCJA”). The related amendments to the Mediation Act provide that a settlement agreement within the scope of the Act is not precluded from the Mediation Act, if that settlement agreement also qualifies under that Act. The amendments to the SCJA provide the High Court with the jurisdiction to grant applications under the Act.
The Act is available from the Singapore Statutes Online website sso.agc.gov.sg by clicking here.