India: The Singapore Convention On Mediation – India's Pro-Enforcement Run Continues

Last Updated: 22 August 2019
Article by Shaneen Parikh and Ifrah Shaikh

The United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (Singapore Convention) was adopted by the United Nations on June 26, 2018 and opened for signature on August 7, 2019, with 46 countries affixing their signatures to what is intended be a game changer in the alternate dispute resolution space.

The use of mediation has grown, particularly because it is cheaper than international arbitration (which is now being criticised for the very evils it was created to avoid, i.e. costs and complexity), and also because it is more likely to preserve commercial relationships. These benefits are recognised in the Preamble to the Convention, reflecting the hope that the enforceability of international commercial settlement agreements would facilitate efficient administration of justice by States, and also contribute to the development of harmonious international economic relations.

The Singapore Convention facilitates the recognition and enforcement of settlement agreements that meet the conditions mandated therein , in a manner similar to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention). As a result, a settlement agreement will be enforced directly by a court instead of it being treated only as a contract, with a civil suit having to be filed for its enforcement.

What Constitutes an Enforceable Settlement Agreement Under the Convention?

The conditions that are required to be met for enforcing a settlement agreement under the Convention are:

  1. The settlement agreement must be in writing (i.e. that it is recorded in some form)1
  2. It must arise out of a 'mediation', defined under the Convention as 'a process, irrespective of the expression used, or the basis upon which the process is carried out, whereby parties attempt to reach an amicable settlement of their disputes with the assistance of a third person(s) lacking the authority to impose a solution on the parties.'2
  3. The dispute must be a 'commercial' dispute. Although the word 'commercial' is itself not defined (consciously), it is meant to be read in a broad manner, similar to the New York Convention3. One may note the Supreme Court's decision in M. Investment & Trading Co. v. Boeing Co., which broadly defined the word 'commercial' as "having regard to the manifold activities which are an integral part of international trade today" 4.
  4. Further, the settlement cannot relate to, (a) transactions engaged in by one of the parties (a consumer) for personal, family or household purposes; or (b) family, inheritance or employment law.5
  5. The settlement agreement must be 'international', in that:

    – At least two parties to the settlement agreement have their places of business in different States, or

    – the state in which the parties have their places of business is different to the state in which the substantial part of the obligations under the settlement agreement is performed or the State with which the subject matter of the settlement agreement is most closely connected6.
  6. The Convention does not apply to those settlement agreements that are, (a) approved by a court or concluded in court proceedings (on the basis that these would likely be recorded as orders / judgments of a court, and enforceable as such), or (b) recorded and therefore enforceable as arbitral awards7

Necessity for Enforcement of Mediated Settlement Agreements

One would expect that by virtue of the fact that mediated settlement agreements are entered into on a voluntary basis and by mutual agreement of the parties, they are likely to be honoured. If so, there may be no real need to provide assistance for enforcement by way of a convention. While this may be partially true, the value of the Convention lies in providing certainty to parties that settlement agreements effected through mediation will ultimately be enforceable in an efficient manner and that they will not be relegated back to a full-blown arbitration or litigation, should the other party default.

Enforcement of Settlement Agreements in India

We do not deal here with settlements arrived at under the auspices of a court in legal proceedings, as those would normally take the shape of a 'consent decree', enforceable directly by a court, and similarly, a 'consent award', enforceable under Part I (or Part II for a foreign award under the New York Convention). Such settlement agreements are also, for the same reason, excluded by the Singapore Convention.

Part III of the Indian Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 (the A&C Act), deals with 'conciliation' of disputes arising out of a legal relationship between parties, whether contractual or not8. A settlement agreement arrived at through conciliation, has the same status and effect as if it were an arbitral award on agreed terms on the substance of the dispute rendered by an arbitral tribunal. On that basis, it is recognised and enforceable as if it were a decree of the court9.

Part III does not contain any reservation (as does Part I) that it applies only to conciliations that take place (are 'seated') in India. (This is also similar to the Singapore Convention which deliberately stayed away from the concept of a 'seat' of mediation). As such, a settlement agreement reached through conciliation, though executed offshore, should be enforceable in India on the same basis, subject to meeting the other conditions in Part III.

The value of India's ratification of the Convention would therefore assist Indian parties in enforcing settlement agreements against parties outside India.

Settlement Agreements through Mediation v/s. Conciliation

One notes the use of the word 'conciliation' in the A&C Act, and in the paragraphs above. The Convention does not insist upon the use of the word 'mediation' in describing ways in which a settlement may be reached (and in several jurisdictions there is no real difference between conciliation and mediation). In India, however, mediation and conciliation are treated as two different forms of alternate dispute resolution. For example (apart from the fact that Part III deals with only 'conciliation'):

  • The A&C Act, in Section 30, empowers an arbitrator to "encourage settlement of the dispute and, with the agreement of the parties, the arbitral tribunal may use mediation, conciliation or other procedures at any time during the arbitral proceedings to encourage settlement".
  • Section 89(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, provides for court-referred mediation and conciliation, stating that:

"Where it appears to the Court that there exist elements of a settlement which may be acceptable to the parties, the Court shall formulate the terms of settlement and give them to the parties for their observations and after receiving the observations of the parties, the Court may reformulate the terms of a possible settlement and refer the same for –

(a) arbitration;

(b) conciliation;

(c) judicial settlement including settlement through Lok Adalat; or

(d) mediation."

  • The Civil Procedure Alternative Dispute Resolution and Mediation Rules, 2006 (ADR Rules), framed by the Bombay High Court, provide for both 'settlement by conciliation' and 'settlement by mediation'10. The ADR Rules state that a conciliator may make "proposals for a settlement of the dispute and by formulating or reformulating the terms of a possible settlement; and has a greater role than a mediator.", thus differentiating between the roles of the facilitator and also the procedure. (Similarly, a conciliator under the A&C Act, is empowered under Section 67(4) to "make proposals for a settlement of the dispute").


Accordingly, while settlement agreements arrived at through 'conciliation' may be enforced in India under the mechanism prescribed under Part III of the A&C Act, those agreements concluded through mediation or any other consultative process, could only be enforced as contracts, by filing separate legal proceedings in that regard. The Singapore Convention thus addresses what was otherwise arguably a legal vacuum for parties executing settlement agreements as a result of private mediation or other facilitative process, by providing for their enforcement directly by the courts of the signatory States.


1. Article 1(1) of the Singapore Convention defines a "settlement agreement" as 'an agreement resulting from mediation and concluded in writing by parties to resolve a commercial dispute.'

2. Article 1(3) of the Singapore Convention

3. Timothy Schnabel, The Singapore Convention on Mediation- A Framework for the Cross Border Recognition and Enforcement of Mediated Settlements' (September 18, 2018), pg. 18, Footnote 119, Available at

4. R.M. Investment & Trading Co. v. Boeing Co 1994 (4) SCC 541

5. Article 1 (2) of the Singapore Convention

6. Article 1(1) of the Singapore Convention

7. Article 1(3) of the Singapore Convention

8. Section 61(1) of the A&C Act

9. Section 74 read with Sections 30 and 36 of the A&C Act

10. The ADR Rules define 'settlement by conciliation' as "the process by which a conciliator who is appointed by parties or by the Court, as the case may be, conciliates the disputes between the parties to the suit by the application of the provisions of (the Act)"; and the 'settlement by mediation' as "the process by which a mediator appointed by parties or by the Court, as the case may be, mediates the dispute between the parties to the suit ...".

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions