Learning & events

PDG event | Should Australia sign the Singapore Convention on Mediation?

with Khory McCormick and Rajesh Sharma

Thursday 31 October 2019 | Melbourne

Why did Australia fail to sign the Singapore Convention on Mediation and …what does this failure say about the future of Mediation in Australia?


The Facts: In December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation - now called: the Singapore Convention on Mediation.

On 7th August 2019, 46 countries signed the Convention, in Singapore. They represented over half the world’s population and two thirds of global trade. Signatories include the USA, China, Singapore, India, Malaysia, the Philippines & South Korea.

The Convention facilitates enforcement of mediation agreements between parties domiciled in different jurisdictions - as the New York Convention 1958 does for arbitral awards.

This global initiative was designed to support the use of mediation - by demonstrating widespread sovereign support for the process. The message being that any country willing to enforce cross-border mediation agreements is clearly committed to supporting mediation for domestic disputes.

The Consequences: The Singapore Convention increases opportunities for (included) mediators and related professionals to provide services on the world stage. Failing to sign the Convention harms Australia’s mediation community by:

Reducing credibility and limiting the attractiveness of Australia as a dispute resolution “hub”.

Reducing credibility and limiting the attractiveness of Australia mediators as international dispute resolvers.

Reducing opportunities for Australian mediators, and Australian Dispute Resolution organisations, to attract and service international dispute resolution clients.

The Issues: Australia’s failure to sign the Convention is disappointing, at best. It could be sending an alarming message about the Federal Government’s attitude to mediation: is it just a quick and cheap process for clearing court backlogs and saving costs? Has mediation become the recession justice we all want to avoid?

Our speakers at this event are Professors Khory McCormick and Rajesh Sharma. They’ll provide unique insights into the Convention and its intended operation, lead a discussion about the consequences of our failure to sign, and suggest solutions.

If you’re interested in the future of mediation in Australia, you need to know more about this topic, to decide what, if anything, needs to be done about it.

This event is to be held in conjunction with the Vic Bar and VADR.


About presenters

Khory McCormick

With key roles across a range of alternative/appropriate dispute resolution bodies and with sector recognised expertise, confirmed by independent publications, Khory McCormick is a recognised market leader in the field of dispute and conflict resolution in the Australasian market and beyond.

After 35 years of practice as a partner at the top end of the commercial, public and private sector markets, Khory's opinion is widely sought across a broad spectrum of industry sectors. Peer rankings regularly ranking as a 'go to' adviser and a thought leader in terms of the future of dispute resolution particularly in cross border and cross-cultural contexts.

Khory recently represented Australia in UNCITRAL Working Group II: Arbitration and Conciliation the Singapore Convention and associated model law on the enforcement of international mediated settlements agreement.

He has been an institutional representative for entry into cooperation agreements in the ADR and arbitration spaces with both ICADR (India) and BANI (Indonesia) as well as spoken throughout the region in Korea, Taiwan, China, India, Indonesia and elsewhere.

Khory is listed both in Chambers Asia Arbitration (Australia) and in the International Who's Who ranking for International Commercial Mediators.

Rajesh Sharma

Rajesh is currently teaching as a Senior Lecturer at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. He is an Honorary Professor at Xiangtan University Law School and an Adjunct Professor at the Academy of International Dispute Resolution and Professional Negotiation. Before coming to Australia, he was Assistant Professor at the School of Law, City University of Hong Kong. He is a member of the Drafting Committee of the Dispute Resolution Rules for the Belt and Road, a member of the Drafting Committee for the Rules of Mediation for Asian Regional Mediation Organisation (ARMO) and lead drafter of the Arbitration Rules of Asia Pacific Centre for Arbitration and Mediation. He is a core member (representing Australia) on the Committee for the Establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Dispute Resolution for Indian Ocean Regional Association. Rajesh has been appointed as International Expert Mediator at the Hong Kong-Mainland Joint Mediation Centre, International Dispute Resolution and Risk Management Institute and Japan International Mediation Centre-Kyoto. He is a member of the Governing Board of the Indian Institute of Arbitration and Mediation, and a panel arbitrator at the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board. Rajesh has also conducted research and provided expert comments to UNCITRAL on mediation and conciliation. These works include conducting “An Evaluation of Mediation Law in Asia”, providing expert comments on “Draft Instrument on Enforcement of Settlement Agreement Across-border” and reported on “Possible Amendments in UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Conciliations”. Currently, Rajesh is working on the preparation of commentary on the Singapore Convention.

Our supporting partner for events in Victoria, Pitcher Partners (https://www.pitcher.com.au/), takes a reliable, practical, commercial and thorough approach to all its work, which is entirely congruent with some of the key elements of professional dispute resolution practice.
If you find yourself in a conflict or dispute situation where a party or parties require highly professional, independent, objective, financial or accounting services, then you may contact Mr Innis Cull, Partner (innis.cull@pitcher.com.au; T: 03 98612 9445) or Mr Marcus Rodaughan, Client Director (Marcus.Rodaughan@pitcher.com.au; T: 03 8610 5461) at Pitcher Partners for an obligation free discussion of how they may assist the dispute resolution process.

Thanks to Pitcher Partners for generously supporting this event.