The New York Convention has made it much easier for parties in international arbitration to seek enforcement of arbitral awards. The United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, also known as the Singapore Mediation Convention, is poised to do the same for settlement agreements arising out of international mediation.
Fifty-one countries, including the United States and China, have signed the Singapore Mediation Convention. The aim of the Convention is to encourage the use of mediation as a means of alternative dispute resolution.
Currently, where a party to a settlement agreement does not abide by the settlement’s terms, if the aggrieved party wishes to enforce those terms, it must commence proceedings for breach of contract either through arbitration or litigation in court, which often requires substantial expenditure of both time and cost.
Once the Convention goes into effect, parties that have reached a covered settlement of a cross-border dispute through mediation will be able to have such settlements enforced directly, streamlining and expediting the process, similar to the way the New York Convention allows for enforcement of international arbitral awards.
A settlement agreement must meet certain conditions to be covered by the Convention. For any settlement agreement to be enforceable it must:
- Result from mediation;
- Be in writing and signed by the parties;
- Concern a commercial dispute; and
- Be between two or more parties from different Convention signatory states.
The Convention will go into effect six months after the third state ratifies it. As of the date of this post, no state has yet done so.