UK Signs the Singapore Convention

Amanda Lee


On 3 May 2023 the UK became the 56th State to sign the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, known as the ‘Singapore Convention on Mediation’ (Signapore Convention).


This development follows the UK Government’s statement in response to a recent consultation seeking views on whether the UK should sign and ratify the Singapore Convention, in which it made clear that “it is the right time” for the UK to sign the Singapore Convention.


To date, the Singapore Convention has been ratified by ten States. The UK has indicated that it intends to join that number in due course, after the completion of relevant legislative steps.


The Singapore Convention is similar in nature to the New York Convention, which addresses the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards, and is widely regarded as one of – if not the – most successful international treaties of all time. 


By establishing an international regime that applies to the recognition and enforcement of written agreements arising from commercial mediation, the Singapore Convention aims to facilitate the direct enforcement of mediated agreements.


At present, parties seeking to enforce a mediated agreement have to jump through numerous hoops, which may include commencing proceedings for breach of contract.


The UK’s signature is indicative of its intention to make sure that UK remains a desirable global disputes hub, an intention supported by its ongoing consultation in respect of potential reform to the Arbitration Act 1996.


Why does it matter?

Mediation is widely used as a cost-effective, efficient, and pragmatic alternative means of resolving disputes between parties in the UK and beyond.


In fact, it is estimated by CEDR that “the commercial mediation profession this year will save business around £5.9 billion in wasted management time, damaged relationships, lost productivity and legal fees”.


The Tenth CEDR Mediation Audit (2023) noted that the approximate value of mediated cases, excluding so-called ‘mega cases’, which distort the relevant statistics due to their high value, is approximately £20 billion.


The use of mediation relieves pressure on the court system, and may result in positive outcomes that cannot be achieved within the adversarial litigation system, enabling commercial relationships to be salvaged and satisfactory outcomes to be achieved for all disputing parties.


The Singapore Convention allows parties to undertake mediation with greater confidence, safe in the knowledge that the UK courts will enforce mediated settlement agreements falling within the Singapore Convention’s framework.


The UK Government’s response to the consultation, which was open for responses in early 2022, is available here.


Parties wishing to discuss the benefits of mediation and the implications of the UK’s decision to sign the Singapore Convention may contact Amanda Lee (