(Oct 13, 2020) Last month, the UN Convention on International Comparison Agreements, which stems from mediation (the Singapore Convention on Mediation), came into force. The Singapore Convention on Mediation was adopted in 2018 by the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCIT), but came into force in September 2020, six months after the Convention was ratified by six countries. At the August 2019 signing ceremony, representatives from 46 countries signed the convention and the Prime Minister of Singapore declared that the convention was “the missing piece in the framework of the international dispute settlement.” However, it is not clear how the courts will set out the Singapore Convention or how often it is invoked in practice. As one commentator notes, a 500-member poll from the region, commissioned in 2016 by the Singapore Academy of Law, showed a clear preference for international trade arbitrations, with 71% preference for arbitrations, 24% in favour of mediation. Interviewees noted opposability, confidentiality and fairness as key factors in the mediation arbitration decision. In addition, Article 5 of the Singapore Convention includes defences similar to those of Article V of the New York Convention, including the defence of the inability to enter into an arbitration agreement and (ii) where the subject matter of the dispute is not in a position to settle by arbitration (mediation) according to the law of the country where recognition or enforcement is sought. In addition, the Singapore Agreement also contains a provision that reflects the defence of application by the New York Convention: (iii) the defence of “public order”. Topics covered: bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements in which India participates and/or harm India`s interests. As the International Mediation Institute and UNCIT note, mediation, as a means of resolving international disputes, is on the rise as opposed to litigation or arbitration proceedings. The perceived benefits of mediation are that it is faster, less costly and more likely to maintain commercial relationships than international arbitrations or litigation. The international implementation of these negotiated comparisons is now facilitated by the Singapore Convention on Mediation, which is particularly important in times of uncertainty in international affairs, such as the COVID 19 pandemic.
Several other important factors have influenced the growing use of mediation in international dispute settlement, including china`s Belt and Road initiative, a multi-billion euro infrastructure development strategy in Asia and Europe, and increased trade and investment related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In order to promote international commercial arbitration in India, in order to develop a comprehensive arbitration ecosystem, the government is establishing the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) as a legal seramic body. The Commercial Courts Act 2015 has been further amended and legislation to further amend the 1996 Arbitration and Conciliation Act is under way.