Dear SCL(S) members,

Welcome back from the year-end holidays, and to our very first Newsletter for 2020! This is a significant time for both the Construction industry in general, and for the Society in particular.

Members will recall the passing of the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Amendment Bill 2018 back on 2 October 2018. There is as yet no official announcement as to when the amendments take effect. This is presumably because rules and subsidiary legislation governing statutory adjudication in Singapore are having to be reviewed, to ensure consistency and coherence with the statutory reforms when they come into force.

October 2018 also saw the launch of the Singapore Infrastructure Dispute-Management Protocol by Finance Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat at the 8th Asia-Singapore Infrastructure Roundtable. The innovative Protocol is intended to be a comprehensive dispute management mechanism, and is aimed for use on mega infrastructure and construction projects, not just in Singapore, but also internationally, particularly in Asia. The Protocol and the Ministry of Law’s press release are accessible here.

Another notable piece of legislation was passed on 1 November 2018 i.e. the new Mediation Act of Singapore. It applies not only to mediations conducted in Singapore, but also to mediations conducted overseas where parties have subjected their mediations to the Mediation Act or to Singapore Law. One of the hallmarks of this legislation is that it allows mediated settlement agreements to be recorded as Court Orders and to be enforced as such. This has obvious significance to the attractiveness and efficacy of mediation as a mode of dispute resolution in the construction sector, particularly when one considers:

(a) The international enforceability of Singapore Judgments through the various treaties and court-to-court agreements that Singapore has in place with jurisdictions such as Malaysia, Brunei, Hong Kong, China, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, UK, and all of the EU states; and

(b) The planned signing of the Singapore Convention on Mediation (i.e. UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation) in August this year. Essentially the mediation equivalent of the New York Convention, the Singapore Convention seeks to ensure cross-border enforceability of mediated settlement agreements in courts of signatory states. Note however that it does not come into force immediately (February 2020 at earliest), and will need to accumulate a critical mass of signatories before realising its true potential.

Please look out for our regular updates on of events and articles on such legal developments and other issues that matter to the construction fraternity!

Toh Chen Han
Chairman, SCL (Singapore)
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