Specialist shipping law firm Myton Law has urged the Government to sign up to a new United Nations Convention relating to the settlement of international commercial disputes through mediation.

“The Singapore Convention aims to lend more legitimacy to the process of mediation,” it explained, “but more importantly aims to make the process more efficient.”

Currently, if settlement of a mediation requires enforcement, this can involve court proceedings in one country which must then be enforced in another jurisdiction, if possible; or arbitration, followed by an arbitral award which then must be enforced in the country where the assets are located.

All this is costly and time-consuming. Myton Law pointed out, and may discourage parties from engaging in a mediation process at the outset.

The Convention has been designed as a catch-all, covering all mediation-type resolutions regardless of whether it is titled specifically 'mediation' or not.

Similarly, the mediation does not have to be carried out by an accredited mediator to count. As long as the proceedings fall within the Convention's broad definition of a mediation, the parties may apply for relief.

Proof that the proceedings were a mediation may be given through signatures from both parties, or from the mediator.

The Singapore Convention will come into force six months after three countries have ratified, accepted or acceded to the Convention. Given that 46 countries, including the United States and China, signed on the first day (7 August 2019), this is extremely likely.

The Convention could come into force in Spring 2020 but two notable absentees from the list of signatories are the EU and the UK.

Myton Law has argued that UK importers, exporters and all involved in international trade and the carriage of goods stand to benefit from the Convention as it aims to provide for the enforcement of mediated settlements of disputes involving agreements across country borders.

Last reviewed 6 September 2019