The Singapore Convention: How does it move the needle in growing the international mediation market?



Ban Jiun Ean

Executive Director of Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC)

About him

Ban Jiun Ean read law at the National University of Singapore before joining the Ministry of Law. He spent nine years doing legal policy work, with a focus on the development of Singapore’s alternative dispute resolution (ADR) industry. Jiun Ean spearheaded the development of the world’s first integrated dispute resolution centre, Maxwell Chambers, which brought together arbitral institutions, service providers and legal practitioners under the same roof in a facility equipped with bespoke dispute resolution rooms and state-of-the-art supporting technology. In 2010, he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Maxwell Chambers, helming the company for five years and establishing it as the foremost dispute resolution centre of its kind in the world. In June 2019, Jiun Ean was appointed as the Executive Director of Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC). As a firm believer in the value of mediation, he looks forward to strengthening SMC’s position as a leading ADR centre in Asia.



The Singapore Convention: How does it move the needle in growing the international mediation market?

by Mr. Ban Jiun Ean

Date: 8 April 2020

Time: 19:00 GMT+8:00 / 1:00PM CEST

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Presentation Summary

Mr. Ban Jiun Ean, Executive Director of Singapore Mediation Centre, was invited this week to speak on the topic of ‘The Singapore Convention: How does it move the needle in growing the international mediation market?’. Mr. Ban started his presentation by sharing that the Singapore Convention of Mediation1 (SCM) had catapulted mediation into the global arena of dispute resolution, and had opened up interest and discussions on mediation among users of dispute resolution.

Mr. Ban stated that there are currently 51 countries that have signed the SCM and added that the SCM would come into force on 12 September 2020 as three countries – Singapore, Fiji, and Qatar – have ratified the SCM.2 He opined that the other Signatory countries may need some time to harmonize their legal systems with the SCM before ratifying it. However, Mr. Ban is hopeful that commercial parties will soon be able to enforce their settlement agreements in the Signatory countries. Mr. Ban also stated that parties may soon be able to stipulate in their contracts that mediation is to be conducted under the UNCITRAL Model Law.

Mr. Ban applauds the efforts of the global mediation community, but also gave credit to the New York Convention3 as he opined that the New York Convention created an understanding about how an enforcement convention can effectively enhance globe trade and dispute resolution. As such, the New York Convention provided the basis of comfort on which Signatory countries decided to sign the SCM; Mr Ban compared mediation’s SCM to be the equivalent of arbitration’s New York Convention.

Looking at the bigger picture, Mr. Ban stated that the SCM achieved two points. First, it galvanized the mediation community to collectively lobby their respective governments and ministries to be a signatory to the SCM. Second, it strengthened the voices of mediation advocates who have been promoting mediation to parties, businesses, and law firms. Mr. Ban also referred to Timothy Schnabel’s example of a common retort by reluctant people to debunk some myths about mediation by explaining that the SCM now gives ‘teeth’ to the mediation agreements.

Mr. Ban suggested that the SCM is likely to persuade parties to incorporate mediation clauses in their contracts, and to invest their time and energy in mediation to settle their differences. Mr. Ban opined that by doing so, it would help the parties significantly during mediation. He also stated a belief that a properly conducted mediation would result in parties voluntarily complying with their settlement agreement to retain their commercial relationship. All of these would increase the probability for parties to arrive at a settlement agreement. This would ensure that the high settlement rate in mediation would sustain, and enforcement of the settlement agreement under the SCM would, in reality, rarely be necessary.

Mr. Ban concluded that the biggest success of the SCM has been to bring mediation into prominence and on par with arbitration and litigation in the international dispute resolution arena.

Q&A / Topics for Discussion

Mr. Ban concluded the session by answering various questions and topics from the participants:

  • Whether the SCM can help when the choice of law clause is of a non-signatory State.
  • Whether the SCM provides for regulations for online mediation.
  • What more needs to be done for international parties to use mediation more frequently in addition to the SCM.
  • Why the EU is not yet a signatory to the SCM.
  • What is the impact of the SCM on international arbitration.

We invite you to listen to Mr. Ban’s answers from the video record of the session available via YouTube, as well as to catch up on his response to other questions not listed above.

Links to other requested resources that came up during the session are provided below:

The team at SIMI and IMI would like to express our gratitude to Mr. Ban for sharing his time to be a speaker at the Singapore Convention Seminar Series, and to participants for joining us live for the session, which was a great success with participants joining us from all over the world. Do join us for the next seminar on 'South Africa and the Singapore Convention on Mediation'!



1United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation.

2Status of United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation available at: <>.

3The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

4There is cross recognition between IMI's Certified Mediators and SIMI's Certified Mediators. Individual mediators accredited on other levels by IMI and/or SIMI do not qualify for cross recognition by virtue of having not met the minimum required experience.