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5 more countries sign Singapore convention on mediation

FIVE more countries have inked the Singapore Convention on Mediation, bringing the total number of signatory countries to 51, said Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong on Tuesday.

This strong show of support for the UN treaty since it opened for signing about four months ago, demonstrates the commitment towards multilateralism and a rules-based international order, Mr Tong added.

He gave the update on Tuesday night at the official launch of the Singapore Office of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

The five countries - Armenia, Chad, Ecuador, Gabon and Guinea-Bissau - join others such as the United States, China, India and South Korea, which signed the convention in August.

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Citing the convention, the launch of the PCA office as well as the opening of Maxwell Chambers Suites where the office is located, Mr Tong said they were key milestone events in international dispute resolution that happened in Singapore this year.

Since the PCA set up its office here in 2018, it has administered 28 proceedings and concluded nine hearings.

Founded in 1899, the global arbitration body is the oldest institution for international dispute resolution in the world.

Singapore first had recourse to its services in 2003 during a land reclamation dispute with Malaysia, and again in 2012 for the development charges on former Malayan Railway land here.

PCA Secretary-General Hugo H. Siblesz said: "PCA's arrangement with Singapore has made its services more accessible to parties and disputes in this part of the world."

Mr Tong said the Singapore Convention on Mediation, which aims to promote the use of mediation in settling cross-border commercial disputes, is also relevant to the work of the PCA, which also provides support for mediation and conciliation.

He added that the Ministry of Law will be organising the second Singapore Convention Conference on Sept 1 next year.

These developments, he said, underscore the importance of dispute resolution and Singapore's role at the centre of it.

To this end, the Law Ministry also regularly reviews the dispute resolution regime, he added.

Most recently, he said, it launched a public consultation on proposals to amend the International Arbitration Act, including whether an arbitral tribunal and the courts should be given powers to enforce the confidentiality requirements that are common in an arbitration.

The ministry is also looking at whether conditional fee agreements should be allowed for international arbitration proceedings, among others. Such agreements involve a lawyer receiving payment of legal fees only if the claim is successful.