From a country exiting a union to the election of an unprecedented president, 2016 has been a year that has thrown up many startling (and sometimes tragic) events. Many continue to view 2016 with bewilderment and consternation.
In the light of the year’s events, I am grateful that SMC has survived intact and unscathed. Although the year has had its fair share of challenges for SMC, overall, it has been a fulfilling year.
In 2016 we celebrated a significant increase in the number of mediation matters. The years of tilling the dispute resolution ground are, slowly but surely, bearing fruit. Unfortunately, I cannot share the statistics now as this will be the subject of a media release in 2017. So, watch this space!
In 2016, SMC continued its effort to change the culture of dispute resolution by engaging businesses. We participated in road-shows, conferences and talks. Amongst other events, we presented to 8 Rotary Clubs. We even roped in a High Court Senior Judge to help us promote mediation to financial institutions. This year’s Unfolding Conversations: Navigating Stormy Relationships (28 September) was attended by the who’s who from the maritime industry. In addition, we continued to work with various partners on sector-specific mediation schemes. Examples of such schemes include those for Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) and Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS).
We ran some significant mediation workshops in 2016, such as the one for family mediators (involving trainers from the Straus Institute, Pepperdine University) and one for insolvency mediators. We also ran workshops for the lawyers-to-be (Preparatory Course leading to Part B of the Singapore Bar Examinations) for a record 244 Part B students. Dedicated colleagues and trainers had to sacrifice 12 Saturdays (including assessments). Hopefully, this will, to an extent, plant the seeds of peace-making in the next generation of lawyers. Incidentally, another important effort to ‘encourage’ lawyers to explore mediation this year was Practice Direction No. 1 of 2016, which essentially made it a lawyer’s duty to advise his clients on ADR.
The Singapore Mediation Lecture (12 October) speaker this year was Colin Rule (Co-founder and COO of Modria) on the topic “Bringing Dispute Resolution to the Internet: Online Dispute Resolution”. Not only was Colin informative, he was also inspiring, challenging us to re-imagine how dispute resolution in the future will be like. We believe that the lecture this year will have ramifications beyond the world of mediation.
We are also proud to say that we were instrumental in bringing the Global Pound Conference to Singapore (17 – 18 March). This conference, the first of more than 30 of such conferences in the world, helped brand Singapore as a leader in the dispute resolution world.
One other key event this year was that, as of 1 October, FJC (Family Justice Courts) had the power to order parties to attempt mediation. Of particular significance is the fact that parties would have to pay for such mediation services.
To close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners, friends and supporters who have helped us in innumerable ways to further promote mediation. The momentum for mediation will continue to build but we will not rest on our laurels. It’s time to put 2016 to rest and to 2017 we say, “Bring it on!”
Loong Seng Onn
Singapore Mediation Centre
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December 2016 Issue. For past issues, read more here.