SINGAPORE- More people here are turning to mediation in place of lawsuits to solve disputes, because it saves them time and hefty legal costs, and gives them a say in the outcome.
In eight years, mediation figures have jumped fourfold to about 200 cases this year at the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC), which deals with many of the bigger cases.
"We have been intensifying our efforts to promote mediation to lawyers and companies, and persuading people to use mediation as a first resort," said the centre's executive director, Mr Loong Seng Onn.
During mediation, a neutral person works with the feuding parties to resolve their differences. The people involved make their own decisions, usually with the help of their lawyers, and cases are often resolved within a day.
Three in four of its cases are settled amicably this way, said the centre.
More lawyers too are coming round to the idea of mediation. In fact, added Mr Loong, most of the time, it is the lawyers who advise their clients to opt for mediation.
Lawyer Kuah Boon Theng, who specialises in medical cases, said that she often recommends it. "Medical cases can involve people with serious illnesses or those still struggling to deal with a bereavement, and they can be very emotional for the parties involved," she said.
"Sometimes, it is not about the money. What the patient or his family are looking for is an opportunity for the medical professional to listen and empathise.
"When you can get all the parties around the table to speak to each other, share how they feel and get things off their chest, the situation can often be resolved."