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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Singapore, CTO sign MoU on mediation

Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC), to facilitate the provision of alternate dispute resolution (ADR) within the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in the Asia-Pacific region.

Corporate Communications Manager at SMC, Ms Foo Kim Leng and Senior Manager, Programmes at CTO, Mr. Lasantha De Alwis, informed ITREALMS Online that the MoU would avail ICT companies in the Asia-Pacific region access to a new alternative mechanism for resolving disputes.

The deal they also said was the resolve of both entities to contribute their respective experiences to offer services to help minimise the impact of disputes arising between policy makers, regulators, operators and consumers.

According to a press statement endorsed by the duo of Ms Leng and Mr. De Alwis and made available to ITREALMS Online, said, “An MoU to this effect was signed by Mr Loong Seng Onn, Executive Director of SMC and Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Chief Executive Officer of CTO.”

The United Kingdom-based CTO said it has worked extensively on telecommunications and ICT projects with its member countries in Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

In recognition of this, CTO further said it is essential to ensure that disputes are resolved quickly, effectively and economically, thus it has set up the CTO Alternate Dispute Resolution Centre to provide all types of dispute resolution services to the ICT sector, in alternative to litigations.

On the other hand, SMC, a non-profit organisation under the Singapore Academy of Law has successfully spearheaded the mediation movement in Singapore since 1997 with over 1,300 civil disputes of all types to its credit.

Under the terms of the MoU, both the CTO and SMC will promote each other’s dispute resolution services, even as the two parties would also cross-refer cases to one another when mediation services are required.

SMC, as stated in the MoU would equally develop an ADR training programmes, seminars and workshops to cater to CTO’s requirements. Pointing out that the MoU is the first collaboration CTO is having with a mediation service provider outside the UK.

Commenting on this, Dr. Spio-Garbrah said that CTO member countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and those in the South East Asia will find Singapore an attractive location to hold mediation given the challenges presented in Singapore itself, within these countries and the dynamics between the countries themselves.

“Singapore will also be a central and neutral venue for cross border disputes involving Japan, Korea and China,” he said.

For those from the United States and UK, France and Germany, Dr. Spio-Garbrah noted that Singapore presents a viable, low cost option compared to mediation in a western country.

Also, Mr. Onn of SMC pointed out that the collaboration with CTO would enable his organisation to promote mediation services globally.

“This is also in line with our government’s plan to promote Singapore as an ADR hub,” he declared, stressing that CTO has extensive experience working with governments, regulators, telecom service operators and other ICT stakeholders while SMC will definitely benefit from their expertise in dealing with all types of telecommunications related disputes.

“CTO and SMC will also explore including ADR experts such as mediators and evaluators accredited by SMC in CTO’s panel of resource personnel,” he said.

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