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WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

George Lim SC is a leading light in the Singaporean ADR scene, and has mediated over 500 disputes, including several complex, cross-border commercial matters.

Questions & Answers

George Lim was called to the Bar in 1981, and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2010. He was president of the Law Society of Singapore between 1998 and 1999, and currently chairs the Singapore International Mediation Centre. George is a highly sought-after mediator in commercial and cross-border disputes. He serves on the board of the International Mediation Institute, and was Singapore’s mediation consultant to UNCITRAL which led to the adoption of the Singapore Convention on Mediation.

What inspired you to become a mediator? 

I have been mediating for 23 years. What attracted me to mediation was the ability to use my legal skills to help parties resolve their disputes amicably. I remember in particular one mediation, where after the parties had settled, they thanked me for helping them bring closure to a five-year dispute. In my 30 plus years as a litigation counsel, that would never have happened in a courtroom.

What qualities make for an effective mediator? 

People skills, the ability to apply the mediation process effectively, and problem-solving skills. The most important thing is that the parties must feel you’re doing your best for them and will not give up so long as options remain.

The Singapore Convention on Mediation had its signing ceremony recently. How do you think this will affect those who have enforceability concerns over the mediation process?

I was privileged to be Singapore’s mediation consultant to Working Group II on Conciliation which resulted in the adoption of the Singapore Convention on Mediation. There are now 53 signatories to the Convention (including the US, China and India), and six ratifications. The Convention came into effect on 12 September 2020.

The global response speaks for itself. More than half of the world’s population has signed up to the Convention. With more ratifications, enforceability will not be a concern.

What impact has covid-19 had on your mediation practice? 

In Singapore, we had a lockdown for two months. But now, face-to-face mediations have resumed. Covid-19 is unfortunate, but it has resulted in more parties attempting mediation virtually. Also, with more disputes arising as a result of the pandemic, there are likely to be more mediations.  Businesses cannot afford expensive and long drawn-out battles in these times.

In your opinion, will the SIMC covid-19 protocol fast track the growth of international mediation? 

In a way, yes. With travel restrictions, parties can no longer travel freely to participate in face-to-face mediations. So one effect is that the cost of  international mediation has become a lot more affordable, and this has incentivised parties to attempt mediation. After all, if the mediation is successful, they save so much!

What is the most interesting mediation you have been a part of? 

A few years ago, I was asked to mediate a case involving a foreign Asian government and a company from a different country. It involved a confidential and sensitive matter, and I was required to make a declaration under the Official Secrets Act!

It was an interesting and challenging case, and I am glad to share that it was satisfactorily resolved after several sessions.

You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished? 

Thank you. I now mediate one or two cases a week. It is tiring, but very satisfying when you are able to get parties who have been fighting for two to three years to solve their problems together. I believe the Singapore Convention on Mediation has played a significant role in promoting mediation globally, and I would like to see more countries sign and ratify it.

Do you see mediation becoming more attractive as a result of covid-19?

Covid-19 is a terrible disease. It has wreaked havoc and turned our world upside down.

Many businesses have been adversely affected, and many people have, through no fault of their own, lost jobs and are in financial difficulties. 

During these unprecedented times, my hope is that we will look towards resolving our disputes peacefully as opposed towards fighting each other. Mediation, for me, should be the preferred mode of dispute resolution. 

Global Leader

Mediation 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

George Lim SC is a leading light in the Singaporean ADR scene, and has mediated over 500 disputes, including several complex, cross-border commercial matters.

Biography

George Lim was called to the Bar in Singapore in 1981. He was appointed senior counsel in 2010, and was president of the Law Society of Singapore between 1998 and 1999.

George is the chairman of the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) and was Singapore's mediation consultant to UNCITRAL working group II, which resulted in the adoption of the Singapore Convention on Mediation.

George is an IMI-certified mediator. He did his mediation training in 1996 at the CEDR and later at Harvard. In 1997, he helped to set up the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC).

George has mediated more than 500 disputes with a settlement rate of 75 to 80 per cent. He has also conducted mediation training for judges and lawyers in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Philippines, Fiji, Myanmar, Dubai, Bahrain, South Korea and Japan.

George is on the panel of arbitrators of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). He has been the dispute resolution counsellor of the National Electricity Market of Singapore since 2003.

George served as the first chairman of the Asian Mediation Association (2009–2010). He currently serves on the boards of the SIMC, the SMC and the International Mediation Institute (IMI). In 2013, George co-chaired a working group, appointed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and the Ministry of Law, to make recommendations on developing Singapore into a centre for international commercial mediation. In October 2019, he was appointed by the Government of Singapore to the Roster of Panel Chairs of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on Dispute Settlement.

George is the co-author of Mediation in Singapore: A Practical Guide.

WWL Ranking: Recommended
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