The State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution Experience: Towards appropriate mediation styles and strategies in resolving civil, community and criminal disputes

Miss Lih Jeng Low1

1State Courts. Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

The paper examines how the establishment of the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution (SCCDR) in March 2015 consolidated the different ADR services offered by separate divisions in the State Courts of Singapore. It examines the framework within which ADR services are offered to parties who are in varying contractual and/or personal relationships. It discusses how adopting an integrated and holistic approach results in the expedient and efficient resolution of disputes that involve aspects of the law and cut across the civil-criminal divide.

SCCDR offers ADR in civil cases, Magistrate’s complaints, applications under the Prevention of Harassment Act and Community Disputes Resolution Act.

Parties are in wide-ranging contractual and/or personal relationships such as business associates, co-workers, family members, friends, acquaintances and neighbours. Parties could be represented by lawyers but there is an increasing number of litigants-in-person. Cases are of small value not exceeding S$250,000 (US$180,000).

The framework for SCCDR’s ADR services is as follows:

  • ADR is for cases that have already been filed in the State Courts.
  1. ADR is used as part of case management to facilitate the expeditious disposal of cases and costs savings for parties.
  2. Half-day sessions are scheduled in keeping with Court ADR’s provision of dispute resolution options with limited judicial resources.

In adopting an integrated and holistic approach to resolving conflicts that involve different aspects of the law and cut across the civil-criminal divide, SCCDR:

  1. Adopts different forms of ADR (including neutral evaluation, collaborative ADR) and different styles of mediation (evaluative, facilitative and transformative).
  2. Invests in continuing training and accreditation of Judge Mediators.
  3. Engages volunteer mediators.
  4. Partners ADR stakeholders in Singapore to increase awareness of ADR

Biography:

Lih Jeng has served as a District Judge in the State Courts since 2010 and, since 2013, at the Centre for Dispute Resolution (‘SCCDR’), providing dispute resolution in civil, criminal and community justice matters.

She is an accredited mediator with

  1. Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), UK
  2. Eagles Mediation & Counselling Centre (EMCC), Singapore
  3. International Mediation Institute (IMI)
  4. School of Psychotherapy and Psychology, Regent’s University London, UK
  5. Singapore International Mediation Institute (SIMI)
  6. Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC)

Beyond her judicial duties, Lih Jeng is the editor of SCCDR’s e-bulletin. She is leading SCCDR’s joint research project with the Business School of Nanyang Technological University to study the impact of parties’ cultures on their preferences at mediation. She also conducts training sessions for Judges and Court Administrators at SCCDR and is leading SCCDR’s initiative to develop a Court-Annexed Mediators Programme.

Outside of her professional duties, from 2010-2016, Lih Jeng served as Chairman of the Asia Pacific (AP) Region of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) and a member of WAGGGS’ World Board. During her tenure, the AP Region grew by 1 million girls to become WAGGGS’ largest Region with more than 3.5 million girls and young women.

In recognition of her outstanding service and contribution to the AP Region, she was conferred the highest Award by

  1. The Bharat Scouts and Guides of India (Silver Elephant Award)
  2. The Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association (Twin Swans Award)
  3. The Girl Guides Association of Malaysia (Honorary Star)
  4. International Scout Guide Fellowship (Honorary Fellow)

About the Association

The Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration (AIJA) is a research and educational institute associated with Monash University. It is funded by the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council (LCCSC) and also from subscription income from its membership.

The principal objectives of the Institute include research into judicial administration and the development and conduct of educational programmes for judicial officers, court administrators and members of the legal profession in relation to court administration and judicial systems.

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