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Going for mediation in the State Courts

Mediation may be provided by the courts or other organisations besides the courts.

Note
This page describes mediation by the State Courts' Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (CDRC). The details listed below may not apply to mediation by other organisations.

Before the mediation session

Factors to consider

You should consider the following factors before the mediation session:

  • Your main concerns that have to be addressed to resolve this dispute.
    • For example, monetary compensation, preserving the relationship with the other party or acknowledgement of wrongdoing.
  • The strengths and weaknesses of your case.
  • The risks involved in the case proceeding for a trial.
  • The likely costs of proceeding for a trial (in terms of time, legal costs and reputation) and whether you are prepared to bear it.
  • The possible ways of settling the dispute through mediation, and how the other party is likely to react to these suggestions.

What to prepare

Before attending mediation, you should:

  • Submit a hard copy of your written opening statement to the CDRC no later than 2 working days before the date of the first mediation session.
  • Prepare all relevant documents relating to your dispute.
    • These may include letters, email exchanges, invoices, contractual agreements, expert reports and photographs.
  • Set aside sufficient time in your schedule to attend the session.
    • In general, a dispute may be resolved after 1 to 3 sessions. Each session usually takes about 3 hours. The duration and number of sessions may vary depending on the complexity of the case and the parties' attitudes.
  • Keep an open mind
    • The purpose of mediation is for you to communicate with the other party, not to determine who is at fault.
    • Be prepared to listen to the other party and work together to arrive at an agreement.

If you are representing an organisation or company, ensure that you have the full authority to negotiate and decide the outcome. If you have to consult someone during the mediation session, ensure that you are able to contact the person via phone.

At your mediation session

You should attend the first mediation session regardless of whether you have a lawyer representing you.

On the day of your mediation session, you should:

  • Arrive early.
  • Bring along all relevant documents relating to your dispute.

Mediators in the State Courts

The letter notifying you of the date of mediation will indicate who the mediator will be. Your dispute will be mediated by one of the following parties:

  • A judge in the CDRC.
  • A court volunteer mediator.
    • These are mediators who have been accredited by the Singapore Mediation Centre and appointed as State Courts volunteer mediators.

All mediators in the State Courts are governed by the State Courts' Code of Ethics and Basic Principles on Court Mediation (PDF, 656 KB). This code sets out the key principles of mediation in the State Courts and elaborates on the court mediators' shared values.

Stages in a mediation session

All information during the mediation session will be kept confidential and will not be revealed in court in the event that no agreement is reached after mediation.

You can expect the following stages at your CDRC mediation session:

The stage

What happens

Preliminary meeting

The lawyers will brief the mediator on the facts of the dispute and issues to be discussed.

You and the other party need not be present in the mediation chamber during this time.

(If at least one party is not represented, the mediator may not call for this preliminary meeting.)

Joint meeting

The mediator will introduce you and the other party to the mediation process and facilitate a discussion on the issues in dispute.

Each party will have a chance to speak about the dispute.

Separate meetings

If necessary, the mediator may hold separate meetings with either you or the other party. You can discuss further matters with the mediator and explore possible solutions during these meetings.

What you have shared with the mediator will not be disclosed to the other party unless you allow the mediator to do so.

You may have several of such meetings, depending on the circumstances of each dispute.

After your mediation

If an agreement is reached

Once an agreement is reached, all parties will meet the mediator together with their lawyers to review and confirm the settlement terms.

These terms will be recorded into a settlement agreement by a judge. You and the other party must comply with the terms stated in the settlement agreement.

The settlement agreement may be drafted to allow one party to enforce it as a court order (that is, without any need for another hearing before a judge) if the other party fails to comply with the terms of settlement.

If no agreement is reached

When a dispute cannot be settled through mediation, the judge may recommend other dispute resolution options or direct parties to take steps to proceed to a trial.

The judge who may have mediated your case will not be the judge conducting the trial. The information discussed during the mediation process will remain confidential and will not be revealed to the trial judge.

Need help?

The information here is for general guidance as the courts do not provide legal advice. If you need further help, you may want to get independent legal advice.

Find out more

Resources

For civil cases, refer to the brochures on:

For Magistrate's Complaints, refer to the brochures on:

Refer to:

Related questions

The settlement agreement may have included a default clause or a clause on enforcement in the event of a breach of the agreement. Please seek legal advice on the steps you may take.

Bear in mind that a mediation session, unlike a trial, is meant to move the parties towards a future settlement instead of allocating blame for past conduct. Lawyers should therefore refrain from taking an adversarial approach during mediation.

Prior to the mediation session, it is helpful to discuss the case together with your client. You should assist your client to brainstorm and assess their options, ascertain their goals for mediation, as well as determine the range of options they are willing to accept. Refer to the list of factors they may consider.

On the day of the session

Ensure that both you and your client (if the client's attendance is required) set aside sufficient time for the mediation session.

If the client is representing an organisation or company, ensure that they have been given the authority to settle the case. If your client has to consult someone, ensure that they are able to contact the person via phone during the session.

During the session

At the start of the mediation, the mediator would typically have a preliminary meeting with the lawyers. You should be prepared to address the following matters:

  • Each party's respective cases.
  • Areas of agreement and disagreement.
  • The underlying dynamics in the dispute, including the relationship between the parties and their negotiation history.
  • The proposed agenda or issues for the mediation.


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