Singapore Mediation Convention
The United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, or what is widely known as the Singapore Mediation Convention, was signed by 46 States in Singapore on 7 August 2019. Intended to facilitate the enforcement of settlement agreements that have been entered into with the assistance of mediation and to address the often-cited challenge that there was a lack of an efficient and harmonised framework for cross-border enforcement of such agreements, the Singapore Mediation Convention is truly a boost for the alternative dispute resolution landscape, both in image as well as in substance.
To commemorate the signing of the Singapore Mediation Convention, our Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee collaborated with the Singapore Academy of Law, the Asian Business Law Institute, and the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association to organise an event on 5 August titled “The Big Deal: Managing Disputes in Asia”. We held three panel discussions offering a holistic range of perspectives on how businesses and legal industry stakeholders can effectively manage and resolve disputes while preserving relationships, lowering transaction costs and creating new commercial opportunities at the same time. Channel News Asia produced a documentary on the event which premiered at prime time on 29 August with repeat telecasts.
The Law Society, together with the assistance and support of the Committee, continues to steam ahead with the full suite of ADR offerings: the Law Society Arbitration Scheme (LSAS), the Law Society Mediation Scheme (LSMS) and the Law Society Neutral Evaluation & Determination Scheme (LSNEDS). We undertook a marketing exercise recently to raise the profile of our full suite of ADR offerings among members as well as non-members, producing a variety of physical and digital collaterals to raise awareness of such offerings through various platforms – Law Society website, e-newsletters and brochure stands at the courts. We are also exploring collaborations with industry representative bodies to use some or all of our offerings on a regular basis. If you are interested to find out more, please drop us a note at [email protected].
Economic Assistance to Members
Over the years, we have been increasingly focusing on assisting members economically. I would like to share some of the Society’s initiatives in this aspect:
- Assisting members, former members as well as their spouses, widows, children and other dependants who are in need of financial assistance via our Welfare Fund.
- Subsidising young lawyers and lawyers from small law firms for selected CPD events.
- Subsidising young lawyers to attend international legal conferences such as the IBA Conference, the IPBA Conference and LawAsia Conference.
- Setting aside $300,000 from this fund for our SmartLaw Assist 1 and 2 to subsidise Singapore law practices who adopted online legal research subscriptions. There was a total of 115 successful applications during the two rounds of SmartLaw Assist.
- Disbursing subsidies provided by SPRING Singapore and later Enterprise Singapore under the two legal tech adoption support schemes Tech Start for Law and Tech-celerate for Law. The former ended on 28 February 2018 with 143 successful applications while the latter (which is still ongoing until 1 May 2020) saw 47 approved applications for the baseline categories and 17 approved applications for the advanced categories as of 30 September 2019.
- Negotiating with legal tech vendors for members’ discounts.
- Disbursing subsidies provided by Enterprise Singapore to participants of Lawyers Go Global mission trips.
- Providing complimentary hot-desking and online legal research database at 37 South Bridge Road from May 2018 to July 2019.
- Providing complimentary printing services and online legal research via two iPads at State Courts Bar Room.
- Providing complimentary global 24-hours’ group personal accident insurance for all members up to S$50,000 for Total Permanent Disability, Accidental Causes and in the unlikely event of demise.
Other Initiatives to Boost Members’ Legal Practice
Apart from direct economic assistance, we continue to push out initiatives to boost our members’ legal practice in a variety of ways. As mentioned in my last Law Gazette message, we have brought members on six mission trips to China, Australia, Sri Lanka, Japan and Indonesia under the Lawyers Go Global banner and are planning another three trips next year to China, Vietnam and the United Kingdom. Such trips avail members of opportunities to expand their business networks internationally and to gain a deeper understanding of the legal and business environments of the jurisdictions they visit. Pre-trip training or briefing sessions also ensure that members are prepared for such visits. We are collaborating with the Singapore Management University (SMU) for research projects on comparative laws of the various jurisdictions.
Some of our members also participated in an exchange programme with Guangzhou and Shenzhen law firms from 19 to 30 August this year and had the opportunity to witness first-hand the legal environment supporting the accelerating growth in trade and economic activities in the Greater Bay Area in recent years. On the other hand, we are finalising the details to an exchange programme in Singapore for lawyers from Jiangsu and Shanxi Lawyers Associations. The bridge built between lawyers from the two countries is expected to culminate in fruitful and mutually beneficial business relationships.
On the domestic front, we are equipping members to be future-ready by imparting them with skills to innovate and transform their legal practice through workshops, masterclasses and conferences like the Tech-celerate Conference held in May this year and the Transforming Your Legal Practice Masterclass on 3 October. Often, we work with government agencies like Workforce Singapore to deliver such learning opportunities to members at below-cost pricing.
Once Council-elect 2020 is constituted after our annual elections, Secretariat will work with the new Council on next year’s workplan to continue delivering economic and other forms of assistance to members to ensure that no member is left behind.