What is mediation?
Mediation is a way of resolving a dispute without going for a trial in court. It is known as an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method.
Mediation 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.
How is mediation different from a trial?
The table below sets out the main differences between these two processes.
|Cost||Settling your dispute through mediation will generally be less costly as you will be spending less time to resolve the dispute, and will save on legal fees that would have been spent on a trial (for civil cases).|
Court hearing fees are charged after the first day of trial (at least $250 per day).
Apart from court hearing fees, you would have to pay legal fees for preparing and going for a trial.
Most disputes are resolved within 3 ½ sessions. Many of these have even been settle within half a day.
Trials can be long due to the tedious processes of fact-finding and cross-examination to verify the accuracy of the facts.
|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.|
|Flexibility||The mediation process is flexible and more informal. There is greater opportunity for interaction between the mediator, you and the other party. You may arrive at any creative solution without being strictly bound by the law. |
A court trial is formal.
In reaching a decision, the Judge has to ensure that court procedures and existing legal principles are followed.
The discussions between all the parties during a mediation session will remain private and confidential. If you and 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.|
Benefits of mediation
When is mediation appropriate?
Every dispute differs in character, and you have to consider whether your dispute is suitable for mediation. Mediation may be effective in the following situations:
- You want a quick end to the dispute.
- You want to save on legal costs.
- You want to save or maintain your relationship with the other party.
- The parties want to avoid publicity or to maintain confidentiality
- The law does not provide a solution that meets your real concerns. For instance, you may file a suit for defamation, but you may really be seeking an apology which cannot be ordered by the Court in a trial.
- You want a business-driven or creative solution to your dispute.
- Communication difficulties appear to be a major obstacle to resolving your dispute.
However, mediation may not be appropriate for you when:
- You need the Court's decision on a legal issue. For instance, a company may need a court decision concerning how to interpret a clause in its standard contract.
- Your key representatives or decision maker is not willing to participate in mediation.
- A party may not be attempting mediation in good faith. For instance, the other party is seeking to gather more information to use at trial without genuinely intending to explore a settlement.
- You want public attention to be drawn to your dispute.
Mediation programmes in the State Courts
The Small Claims Tribunals (SCT) were set up to provide a quick and inexpensive forum to resolve small claims, without the use of lawyers. If you have filed a claim through the Community Justice and Tribunals System (CJTS), you will be asked to attend a mediation session at the SCT. Please refer to www.statecourts.gov.sg (Filing a claim at the 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:
- Mediation in the State Courts' Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (CDRC)
The mediators in the CDRC are State Courts Judges who have been specially appointed and trained in mediation, and court volunteers who are trained and accredited by the State Courts and Singapore Mediation Centre.
A mediation session will usually take one morning or afternoon. To request for a mediation session, please consult your lawyer or refer to www.statecourts.gov.sg (Interested in Mediation/Conciliation/ADR).
- Mediation in the Singapore Mediation Centre
The Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC) offers a range of mediation services for different disputes. Please refer to www.mediation.com.sg or contact the SMC for more information.
The State Courts may refer you to mediation at the CDRC in other relational disputes, including Magistrate's Complaints or applications under the Protection from Harassment Act.