The first month of 2019 is already drawing to a close but what a year this is likely going to be for all those interested in the commercial side in general and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in particular! In the universe of ADR, mediation remains without a doubt one of the most robust methods available. This to a large extend is due to the fact that once an agreement is reached under a mediation, it is extremely rare for there to be a problem with the adherence to the execution of such an agreement. Nevertheless, enforceability of agreements achieved through mediation in an international setting has been perceived by many as a point of concern. This stems predominately from the uneasiness that unless the achieved agreement is converted into an arbitration award the parties can only get the agreement enforced like any other regular contract leading to a potentially very protracted process of getting it homologated by means of a court judgment and then somehow trying to get it enforced in foreign jurisdictions.

To address this concern the UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade and Law) Working Group II with participation by no less than 85 Member States and 35 Intergovernmental and Non-Governmental Organizations after three years of debate and deliberation formulated an international framework for the enforcement of mediated settlements, analogous to the widely known and hugely successful New York Convention (NYC) of 1958 for the enforcement of arbitration awards.

Understandably with so many stakeholders involved this was somewhat of a Herculean task. Nevertheless, following approval of the final drafts at the 51st session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the Convention on the Enforcement of Mediation Settlements (Or Singapore Convention as it has already come to be known) and accompanying Model Law (an update of its earlier version on the same subject of 2002) have been published. The Convention can already be found here:

The Convention, which excludes consumer, employment, family, household, Inheritance, and personal linked disputes from its field of applicability, is scheduled to be signed in Singapore later this year on the 1st of August 2019 and will come into effect six months following ratification by at least three United Nations states. So, watch this space!

And whilst issues regarding the enforcement of mediated settlements remain rare, the coming into existence of a formal enforcement regime for mediated agreements akin to the NYC is likely to deliver a similar boost to mediation like the original NYC of 1958 did for international arbitration back then. A definite gain for the international commercial community as it will give them the confidence to mediate also in an international setting whilst still reaping the mediation benefits of reduced costs and time spent on disputes. So indeed, watch this space!

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