1. What is mediation?
Mediation is a way of resolving a dispute without going for a trial in court. It is a flexible process in which a neutral mediator facilitates the parties' settlement negotiations, to help them reach their own solution. The focus of mediation is on finding solutions that will meet the parties' concerns. The mediator will not make a decision concerning who is at fault in the dispute.
2. How is mediation different from a trial?
Mediation is usually known as an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method; it is an alternative to having a court trial. The table below sets out the main differences between these two processes.
|Control over outcome|
The mediator will not make a judgment or determine who is at fault in your dispute. The mediator will focus on helping you and the other party find solutions that will meet your concerns and needs.
You and the other party are the ones who will decide whether to settle your dispute, and the details of your settlement.
|You give up control to a Judge in a trial who will listen to the evidence and make a decision that binds you.|
The discussions between all parties during a mediation session will remain private and confidential. If you are the other party reach a settlement, you may also decide to keep the details of what you have agreed to confidential.
If there is no settlement and the case proceeds to trial, the trial will be held before a different Judge.
|Court hearings are open to the public.|
|Without prejudice||The discussions during a mediation session are "without prejudice", that is, what is said by you or the other party will not be used against you as evidence if your case proceeds to trial. ||Everything you say in a court hearing is evidence and may be used against you.|
|Flexibility||The mediation process is flexible and more informal.||A court trial is formal.|
3. What are the benefits of mediation?
4. When is mediation appropriate?
Every dispute differs in character, and you have to consider whether your dispute is suitable for mediation or for a trial in court. Mediation may be effective in the following situations:
- The parties know each other and want to save or maintain their relationship
- There is a need to reach a quick end to the dispute
- The parties want to avoid publicity or to maintain confidentiality
- The law does not provide a solution that meets the parties' real interest. For instance, while a suit may appear to be for breach of contract, there may be communication issues amongst the disputing party that have to be resolved. In another illustration, party may file a suit for defamation, but he or she may really be seeking an apology which is not a normal legal remedy given by the courts.
- The parties want to save legal costs
However, there are certain disputes in which mediation may not be appropriate. These are instances where:
- There is a need to establish a legal precedent in court. For instance, a company may need a court decision concerning how to interpret a clause in its standard contract.
- The key representatives or decision makers are not willing to participate in mediation.
- One or more parties may not be attempting mediation in good faith (e.g. to gather more information without any intention of exploring a settlement)
- One or more parties wants public attention to be drawn to the dispute.
5. Mediation programmes in the State Courts
If you have a case in the State Courts, there is a range of mediation services that you may use to resolve your dispute.
The Small Claims Tribunals (SCT) was set up to provide a quick and inexpensive forum to resolve small claims, without the use of lawyers. In general, the SCT deals with claims that are less than $10,000.00. If you have filed a claims there, you will be asked to attend a mediation session at SCT. Please refer to "Filing a claim at Small Claims Tribunals" for more information.
If you have filed a Writ of Summons or Originating Summons in the State Courts, or you have been served such a document by another person, you may consider the following:
a. Mediation in the State Courts Primary Dispute Resolution Centre
The mediators in this Centre are State Courts Judges who have been specially appointed and trained in mediation, and court volunteers who are lawyers trained and accredited by the State Courts and Singapore Mediation Centre. A mediation session will usually take one morning or afternoon. To request for mediation, please consult your lawyer or refer to information on mediation process/ alternative dispute resolution.
b. Mediation in the Singapore Mediation Centre
The Singapore Mediation Centre offers a range of mediation services for different disputes. You may wish to contact them for more information.
The State Courts may refer you to mediation in other relational disputes, including Magistrate's Complaints in the Crime Registry or applications under the Protection from Harassment Act.
Code of Ethics
Click here to access the State Courts' Code of Ethics and Principles of Court Mediation. This document sets out the ethical principles underlying mediation in the State Courts. It elaborates on court mediators' shared values and the key principles governing how mediation should be conducted in the State Courts.