United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (New York, 2018) (the "Singapore Convention on Mediation")

Date of adoption: 20 December 2018

Open for signature: 7 August 2019 in Singapore and, thereafter, at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Purpose

Adopted in December 2018, the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements resulting from Mediation, also known as the “Singapore Convention on Mediation” (the “Convention”) applies to international settlement agreements resulting from mediation (“settlement agreement”). It establishes a harmonized legal framework for the right to invoke settlement agreements as well as for their enforcement.

The Convention is an instrument for the facilitation of international trade and the promotion of mediation as an alternative and effective method of resolving trade disputes. Being a binding international instrument, it is expected to bring certainty and stability to the international framework on mediation, thereby contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), mainly the SDG 16.

The Convention is open for signature by States and regional economic integration organizations (referred to as “Parties”).

Key Provisions

Article 1 provides that the Convention applies to international settlement agreements resulting from mediation, concluded in writing by parties to resolve a commercial dispute. Article 1 also lists the exclusions from the scope of the Convention, namely, settlement agreements concluded by a consumer for personal, family or household purposes, or relating to family, inheritance or employment law. A settlement agreement that is enforceable as a judgment or as an arbitral award is also excluded from the scope of the Convention in order to avoid possible overlap with existing and future conventions, namely the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958), the Convention on Choice of Court Agreements (2005) and the convention on judgments, under preparation by The Hague Conference on Private International Law.

Further, Article 3 addresses the key obligations of the Parties to the Convention with respect to both enforcement of settlement agreements and the right of a disputing party to invoke a settlement agreement covered by the Convention. Each Party to the Convention may determine the procedural mechanisms that may be followed where the Convention does not prescribe any requirement. Article 4 covers the formalities for relying on a settlement agreement, namely, the disputing party shall supply to the competent authority the settlement agreement signed by them and evidence that the settlement agreement results from mediation. The competent authority may require any necessary document in order to verify that the requirements of the Convention are complied with.

The Convention defines in Article 5 the grounds upon which a court may refuse to grant relief at the request of the disputing party against whom it is invoked. These grounds can be grouped into three main categories, namely in relation to the disputing parties, the settlement agreement and the mediation procedure. Article 5 includes two additional grounds upon which the court may, on its own motion, refuse to grant relief. Those grounds relate to public policy and the fact that the subject matter of the dispute cannot be settled by mediation. With the aim to provide for the application of the most favourable framework for settlement agreements, Article 7 foresees the application of the more favourable law or treaty.

Article 8 includes reservations. A first reservation permits a Party to the Convention to exclude from the application of the Convention settlement agreements to which it is a party, or to which any governmental agencies or any person acting on behalf of a governmental agency is a party, to the extent specified in the declaration. A second reservation permits a Party to the Convention to declare that it will apply the Convention only to the extent that the disputing parties have agreed to its application.

The Convention and any reservations thereto apply prospectively, to settlement agreements which have been concluded after the entry into force of the Convention for the Party concerned, as provided in Article 9.

The Convention is consistent with the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Mediation and International Settlement Agreements resulting from Mediation (2018). This approach is intended to provide States with the flexibility to adopt either the Convention, the Model Law as a standalone text or both the Convention and the Model Law as complementary instruments of a comprehensive legal framework on mediation.