The right time to mediate

Theoretically, mediation can take place at any time during the span of a dispute, even when the case is on appeal in the courts. All that is required is the parties’ agreement to mediate in good faith. It is also often said that the earlier one mediates, the better.

Nevertheless, based on SMC’s experience in facilitating mediation cases over the last 19 years, there is a higher likelihood of mediation succeeding when the following criteria are fulfilled:

  • Awareness of strength of own and other side’s case — sufficient information available. Parties should have enough information to make a realistic assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of their own case, as well as that of the other side. This will vary from case to case and may depend on the complexity of the dispute. This awareness is important as it will assist a party in deciding whether or not to accept an offer made by the other side.
  • Psychological readiness. Although it is said that the earlier the dispute is tackled through mediation, the better, sometimes "early" is "too early" – the wounds may be too raw. At this point, parties may be too emotional to be involved in sensible negotiations. In some cases, parties should be allowed to cool off before mediating.
  • Awareness of cost outlay. The cost of pursuing a dispute as well as the opportunity cost of engaging in a dispute should be thought through as early as possible. Where parties are aware of the total legal costs if they bring their matter to a full trial (and the cost consequences should the judge find against them), mediation allows them an avenue to make a commercial decision to put a stop to further expenditure. Essentially, parties should be in a position to make a cost-benefit analysis of a full trial.
  • Key decision makers are committed. It is crucial that the decision makers in a dispute are committed to settling the dispute when the matter is mediated. Their frame of mind towards resolving the dispute should preferably be one of willingness to give and take. In fact, it is best that committed key decision makers attend the mediation in person.

Finding the right time to mediate when all these factors converge is crucial. Attempting mediation too late carries the risk of parties being entrenched in their positions and possibly having spent so much in litigation that they feel they might as well wait for the judge’s decision. Resolve your disputes at the earliest possible stage to save costs and time, and have control over the outcome.

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July 2016 Issue. For past issues, read more here.


Singapore Mediation Lecture 2016

12 Oct 2016: Mr Colin Rule, who served as eBay and PayPal’s Director of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) will speak on the topic "Bringing Dispute Resolution to the Internet: Online Dispute Resolution". He will discuss the challenges of resolving disputes in cyberspace and how ODR could create a new justice system for the internet.

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Asian Mediation Association Conference

20-21 Oct 2016: The 4th AMA Conference, hosted by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade / China Chamber of International Commerce Mediation Center, will be held at the China Palace Hotel, Beijing, China. More details will be posted on SMC's website soon.

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SMC Supported Events

International Family Law Conference 2016: 29 - 30 Sep 2016

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8th Asian Maritime Law Conference: 29 - 30 Sep 2016

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Join other companies that have pledged their commitment to resolving disputes amicably, today. We would like to welcome our new charter signatories the Yujin Holdings Ltd, The Standard Club Asia Ltd, Thomas Miller (South East Asia) Pte Ltd, 8ightplus International Pte Ltd, HHMK Co. Pte Ltd, Realty Master and BW Group Limited.

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