George Lim SC
133 New Bridge Road
#19-09/10 Chinatown Point
+65 6533 2228

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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 is Singapore’s mediation consultant at UNCITRAL. George is the co-editor of Mediation in Singapore: A Practical Guide.

After years of practising litigation and arbitration, what inspired you to become a full-time mediator?

For over 30 years, I enjoyed being a litigator and arbitrator. The adrenaline flow when you win a case is something quite difficult to replicate! However, what troubled me was the fact that while I enjoyed my “wins”, the outcome of the adversarial process often did not address the real needs or interests of the parties. Furthermore, the process inevitably drew the parties apart and made their relationships worse. For me, mediation “humanises” the process. We help parties look for common ground, and fashion creative solutions based on their real needs and interests. After being involved in the mediation movement in Singapore for almost 20 years, it was time to practise what I preached on a full-time basis. I now mediate one or two cases a week; my wife says mediation has given me new goals and challenges in life.

How does your experience handling other forms of dispute resolution enhance your practice as a mediator?

Having such experience helps because it enables me to explain to parties their options, which form of dispute resolution is appropriate for their case, and why mediation is in most cases suitable. It also comes in useful when exploring a party’s best case (best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA) and worst case (worst alternative to a negotiated agreement, or WATNA).

What do you enjoy most about practising mediation?

The satisfaction when parties shake hands at the end of a mediation, and thank you for your efforts. You know you have made a little difference in somebody’s life.

Recently, I conducted a mediation that involved a widow suing a corporation for negligence resulting in the death of her husband. It was very tense in the morning, with the widow venting her emotions and anger. But by the evening, we managed to work out settlement terms, which I thought were fair to the parties. After the settlement agreement was signed, the widow turned to the representatives of the corporation and thanked them for acting reasonably, and saving her the trauma and ordeal of a trial. Settling early gave her closure, and allowed her children and her to move on with their lives.

What would you say are the key advantages of mediation as a form of dispute resolution?

Mediation saves parties time and costs, and allows for creative solutions that match the interests of the parties. There is certainty of outcome, and sometimes, the chance for a better relationship.

Mediation is not just about settling a dispute, or clearing backlogs of cases. For me, it involves a change in mindset and culture; about getting society to learn to manage its disputes in a better and more peaceful manner.

Next year will see the introduction of the Singapore Convention on Mediation – how do you see this impacting the practice area?

I see the Singapore Convention on Mediation to be a huge game-changer. It will take a little while (just as the New York Convention did), but it will encourage more parties with cross-border disputes to attempt mediation. Mediation now has “teeth” as international commercial mediated settlements will now be enforceable under the Convention.

Business people need to tell their governments to sign up for the Convention. The more signatories there are, the more effective the Convention will be.

How have you seen mediation develop globally since you began your career?

I have been a board member of the International Mediation Institute (IMI) since 2009. I have in the past 20 years conducted mediation training for judges, lawyers and professionals in many countries, eg, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Dubai, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Japan and Fiji. So it’s been interesting to see the growth and development of mediation all over the world.

When I started mediating 20 years ago, mediation was only actively practised in countries such as the US, the UK, Australia, Canada. It was not very well known in Asia. Today, many countries in Asia – eg, China, India, Japan and Korea – are extremely interested in mediation. Because of its many benefits and advantages, I believe that more and more businesses will eventually resort to mediation first, before litigating or arbitrating.

What advice would you give to practitioners looking to specialise in the area?

Learn to mediate your own way, leveraging on your strengths. Above all, be sincere.

You have already accomplished so much in your career – what else, if anything, would you like to achieve?

So much more. But something close to my heart is to make mediation more accessible to people from all walks of life, especially those who cannot afford to go through a lengthy litigation or arbitration process. Mediation can be a form of access to justice.


Who's Who Legal Mediation

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 is Singapore's mediation consultant to UNICITRAL working group II on conciliation.

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 is a full-time mediator and mediates one or two cases a week. He has successfully mediated many complex cross-border disputes. His mediation practice covers banking, finance, joint ventures, construction, professional negligence, partnerships, family and other disputes. George has also conducted mediation training for judges and lawyers in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Philippines, Fiji, Myanmar, Dubai, Bahrain and Japan.

George is on the panel of arbitrators of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). In 2003, he was appointed the Dispute Resolution Counsellor of the National Electricity Market of Singapore, and manages the dispute management process of the electricity market.

George served as the first chairman of the Asian Mediation Association (2009–2010). He currently serves on the boards of the SIMC, 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. He is the co-author of Mediation in Singapore: A Practical Guide.

WWL says: George Lim SC is praised as a leading mediator in Singapore by respondents, and is very well respected for his broad range of expertise in international commercial disputes.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Commercial Mediation which can be purchased from our Shop.

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