13 April 2023

On 1 April 2023, the Singapore International Commercial Court (“SICC”) announced that the Supreme Court of Singapore and the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China (together, “courts”) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) on Cooperation on the Management of International Commercial Disputes in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative (“BRI”) through a Litigation-Mediation-Litigation (“LML”) framework. The signing took place in Beijing during Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s (“PM Lee”) recent high-level visit.

The signing of the MOU reaffirms the close working relationship between both courts and demonstrates the strong commitment to enhance access to justice in the respective jurisdictions. The announcement explains that the MOU was concluded in view of the increasing complexity of disputes relating to international trade and commerce.

The MOU seeks to strengthen cooperation between the courts on the management of international commercial disputes arising from BRI projects, in recognition of the flexibility afforded by mediation. Mediation has the added benefit of saving parties time and costs while preserving business relationships.

Both courts will share information on its LML framework and other dispute management practices, including information on procedural rules, case management protocols and practices, and enforcement processes relating to the SICC and the China International Commercial Court. The courts have agreed to develop and implement the LML framework to manage BRI disputes, facilitated by a domestic or foreign mediation expert, and a domestic, foreign, or international mediation institution. They will also seek to promote the LML framework by recommending LML model clauses where appropriate.

Reference materials

An overview of the Memoranda of Understanding concluded during PM Lee’s high-level visit to China can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website www.mfa.gov.sg. The text of the MOU and the LML framework have not been released.