Mediation in Asia


Herbert Smith Freehills’ Hong Kong office has launched its first ADR in Asia Guide, with emphasis on mediation in Hong Kong. Through direct interviews captured in the Guide and anonymous voting via a bespoke HSF iPad app at the Guide launch, they have surveyed around 100 international corporates on their use of mediation in Hong Kong.

The full report is a good read and if you want it you will need to make a request to HSF at

In the meantime, key findings include;

  1. 43% of users who voted via the iPad app regard cost and time savings as the greatest benefit of mediation, followed by the range of outcomes – some not possible through the courts.
  2. Organisations defer to their external lawyers when it comes to considering mediation, when and how to deploy it, and who to appoint as a mediator. This places considerable responsibility on the legal advisor as a stakeholder to mediation success.
  3. The clients surveyed and those who voted via the iPad app, want a mediator who commands the respect of the parties and has gravitas. 47% of those who voted through the iPad app said they relied on recommendations from contacts in the market and 38% deferred to the advice of their external lawyers.
  4. A number of those surveyed noted that evaluative mediators often added more value as they would robustly test the counterparty’s case. Several found that a purely facilitative mediator was too passive and did not gain the respect of the parties.
  5. 50% of the clients interviewed and 56% of those who voted via the iPad app said the most important aspect of mediation was the mindset of the parties. 18% of those voting via the iPad app said timing was the second most important. An early mediation, forged on too little information, is less likely to succeed. A mediation very late in the day occurs when significant costs (eg of discovery, witness statements, trial preparation) have already been incurred.

HSF comments;

“Our research highlights that, when undertaken meaningfully, and at the optimum time, mediation forces everyone into an earlier appraisal of their case. Those surveyed generally said that around 50% of their mediations settled (which accords broadly with market trends for commercial disputes). Those which failed were very often helpful however – in gaining intelligence, promoting engagement with the case, narrowing the issues, or assessing the approach of the counterparty and their external lawyers”

Singapore International Mediation Centre Launched

Singapore 5 November – Brick Court mediators John Sturrock QC and Geoff Sharp participated in the launch of the Singapore International Mediation Centre this week.

With an audience of over 100 government officials, academics, company representatives, legal advisers and mediators from all over South East Asia present, the pair posed a number of provocative questions about the practice of mediation and how practitioners can continue to improve it.Continue Reading

Catering for growing demand for dispute resolution services in Asia

The Singapore International Mediation Centre is scheduled to open in November 2014 to provide international commercial mediation services with the support of the government.

The Centre will have an international board and commercial mediators from around the world will be asked to join its panel. Brick Court mediators have already been approached to join the Centre’s international panel.

The Singapore International Commercial Court will be a division of the Singapore High Court and have a number of attractive features such as hearing submissions on any law, rather than just Singapore law and allowing  foreign lawyers to appear.

In addition to the well-established Singapore  International Arbitration Centre, these two institutions will meet the growing demand for neutral venues in which to  resolve cross-border disputes making Singapore a multi door dispute resolution centre for international commercial disputes.

An Asian Switzerland, Expectation and Regret

Having last week returned to New Zealand from Singapore where I was honoured take part in the launch of the ICC Mediation Rules, I saw first hand the support for mediation in Singapore from powerful institutions like the Singapore Judiciary and the Ministry of Law.

Singapore, and my guess is Asia in general, is in the grip of a trade boom – from my hotel window it showed. I counted well over 100 large ships at anchor in the bay awaiting their turn to come along side the container  port.  This amazing country, lacking in land and natural resources of its own, unloads raw materials and later exports them after refining, value adding and reshaping them. In this way, Singapore has become the world’s busiest transshipment port.

I was in no doubt that I was in the footsteps of many neutrals before me who, down through the ages, had learned to follow the trade routes in an effort to ply their craft.

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