IMDA ADR Scheme
- 1. General
- 2. Application
2.1 How do I apply to use the Scheme? To apply for the Scheme, please use the below links: 2.2 What is the application process like and how does it work? The application process is done via SMC’s online registration portal. This is similar to the process for typical online registrations (such as for banking, etc.). Once the required information is provided and the necessary declarations made, SMC will inform the relevant service provider to verify the information provided. Once verified, SMC will provide the consumer and service provider with a unique Chatroom link to resolve their disputes at the Preliminary Negotiation (PN) stage during the 14-day Notice of Intention (“NOI”) 2.3 What information must I provide and what must I do when registering for the Scheme? Please use the link here for a checklist of the information required. It is important to ensure that the information provided is accurate. Consumers will also be required to make a series of declarations. Failure to do so will result in unsuccessful applications. 2.4 Can anyone use the Scheme? All consumers and small businesses can use the Scheme. Small businesses are businesses that register an annual revenue of up to S$1 million and which have spending of up to S$5,000 over the past 6 months with the service provider. 2.5 What disputes/issues qualify for the Scheme? All contractual disputes/issues regarding eligible services that occurred within the past one year and which can be resolved through service recovery efforts or monetary compensation qualify for the ADR Scheme. Eligible services include all telecommunication and subscription TV services where billing arrangements are entered into or once-off charges incurred with service providers; with exceptions.
The dispute value is capped at $10,000.
The following services/issues are excluded from consideration under the ADR Scheme:
a. Over-The-Top (“OTT”) Services;
b. Bill-on-behalf Services, except for Premium Rate Services (“PRS”);
c. Payphone Services;
d. Directory Services.
a. criminal offence or regulatory matter undergoing investigation by any law enforcement or regulatory agency;
b. proceeding or hearing before a Court or the Small Claims Tribunal or facilitated by any other ADR body, and which is pending or arising from which a judgment, order or decision has been issued;
c. matter previously concluded under the Scheme in relation to which there is no new relevant information;
d. telecommunication and/or media policies;
e. assistance provided by any Service Provider to any law enforcement or other government agency;
f. commercial matter, including the scope, pricing or terms applicable to Services provided by a Service Provider, or any credit assessment decision or policy;
g. content of Services provided, including smartphone applications, premium services, Internet sites and TV;
h. frivolous or vexatious matter as determined by the Scheme Operator;
i. defect, fault or failure in or of third-party equipment that is not owned, operated, installed and/or hired out by the Service Provider in question;
j. loss of revenue or profits caused by or arising from any failure to provide Services by the Service Provider in question;
k. customer service, including call centre performance;
l. legal costs incurred by Applicable Subscribers; and
m. non-billing related performance and service levels of international roaming services.
2.6 Does the ADR scheme cover service quality related issues such as broadband speed, coverage issue, outage, etc.? The ADR scheme covers contractual issues/disputes regarding telecoms and media services that occurred in the past one year and can be resolved through service recovery efforts, or monetary or in-kind compensation. Should the Service Providers be bound by contract to deliver a certain service and where there is a dispute by the subscribers that these are not met, the subscribers can approach their service providers for resolution first, and if parties are not able to reach an amicable outcome, consumers can choose to bring the dispute to ADR. 2.7 Why is my application rejected and can I re-apply? Applications may be rejected due to several reasons. These could include the provision of inaccurate information or the failure to make the necessary declarations. Applications could also be rejected if the applicant or the dispute/issue do not qualify under the ADR Scheme.
Consumers are given up to three registration attempts. It is recommended that consumers check their eligibility for the Scheme before applying and when applying.
2.8 Can service providers reject my application without reason? Service providers cannot simply reject any application. They can only reject applications based on certain circumstances such as applications that contain inconsistencies or inaccuracies. E.g., the consumer might claim to be service provider X’s customer, but the service provider has no record of the consumer. The consumer will be provided with an opportunity to clarify.
- 3. Fees and Payment
3.1 What are the fees payable for the use of the Scheme? Mediation is priced at $10 for consumers and determination (following mediation) is $225. Direct Determination (skipping mediation) is $375. Use of the chat system at the Preliminary Negotiation (PN) stage during Notice of Intention (“NOI”) stage is free of charge. 3.2 Must the fees be paid upfront at registration? Fees are not collected at registration. However, an up-front deposit of $10 will be required. 3.3 Why must I pay the administrative deposit if the chat during NOI is FOC? The up-front administrative deposit is necessary to deter frivolous applications. It also removes the need for consumers to provide their payment details again when initiating mediation or direct-determination. 3.4 Are the fees paid refundable? The administrative deposit is refundable if the dispute is resolved via the chat during the NOI period or if the consumers decides not to proceed with mediation or direct-determination. However, once the consumer initiates mediation, the $10 fee for mediation will be considered paid (as consumers have provided a $10 deposit during registration). For direct-determination, consumers will have to payment minus the $10 deposit already provided. 3.5 Are other payment options apart from credit card accepted? For a start, only credit card payment will be accepted. The Scheme operator is exploring adding other payment options to its platform. 3.6 Do I need to pay further fees if I have completed mediation and wish to proceed with determination under the Scheme? Yes, the deposit covers only mediation. If determination is required following mediation, consumer will be prompted to make the necessary payment. Once payment is made the fee is non-refundable. 3.7 Are the fees and payment ratios fixed and not subject to further changes? Yes, the fees and ratios are fixed and cannot be further adjusted. Consumers have to pay for the fees before mediation or determination begins. This is non-refundable regardless of the outcome of the respective processes. 3.8 Why are the fees split unevenly between consumers and service providers? The ADR Scheme fees are structured in favour of consumers to balance the uneven bargaining power between consumers and their service providers. The uneven split is also meant to encourage service providers to resolve disputes with consumers prior to mediation and determination.
- 4. Notice of Intention (“NOI”)
4.1 What is the notice of intention (“NOI”)? The NOI is a 14 calendar-day period which includes registration and the chat for consumers and service providers. This period is meant to provide service providers with a heads-up regarding the consumer’s intent to initiate dispute resolution under the ADR Scheme and an opportunity to resolve the dispute with consumers (without additional charges incurred). 4.2 Can the NOI be shortened? Yes, the NOI period can be shortened if consumers and service providers mutually agree to proceed with mediation or direct-determination.
- 5. Preliminary Negotiation (“Chat”) during NOI for Consumers and Service Providers
5.1 What is the chat for consumers and service providers during NOI and how does it work? The chat for consumers and service providers is part of the NOI period and is meant to provide consumers and service providers with an opportunity to resolve their dispute without initiating mediation or determination. This is conducted via a private chat-group via SMC’s online ADR system (use is similar to any messaging platform such as WhatsApp). The link to the Chatroom will be provided by SMC. There will not be any 3rd party involved in the chat. 5.2 What is the difference between the chat and mediation? Both the chat and mediation are conducted via a private Chatroom. The main difference is that a professional mediator will be appointed for mediation to facilitate the negotiations.
- 6. Scheme Mediation
6.1 What is mediation and how does it work? Mediation (under the Scheme) is no different from a normal mediation process except this is conducted online via a Chatroom approach. Accordingly, there is no fixed timing for when the negotiations are conducted, the parties may provide their comments at any time. Upon resolution of the dispute at the end of the mediation period, parties will sign a settlement agreement prepared by the mediator. If the dispute is not resolved, the consumer may choose to terminate the case under the ADR Scheme and seek other means of dispute resolution or escalate to determination under the Scheme. 6.2 Is mediation binding? There is no decision rendered for mediation. At the end of mediation, parties to a dispute will either come to an agreement (facilitated by the mediator) or remain unable to reach an agreement. 6.3 How long does mediation typically take? The process is expected to take no longer than 1.5 months. 6.4 Can I skip mediation and go straight to determination? Yes, the fees for direct-determination however will be higher than determination following mediation. 6.5 Is mediation safe to use? Will the information shared be kept confidential and private? The Chatroom link provided by SMC for each session is unique and private – i.e. provided only to the consumer, service provider and mediator. Upon conclusion of mediation, the link will no longer be usable. 6.6 If I have completed mediation and wish to proceed with determination under the Scheme, how do I proceed? Upon conclusion of mediation and if the dispute remains unresolved, SMC’s system will prompt the user whether to initiate determination or close the case. If determination is selected, the system will prompt the consumer to make payment.
- 7. Scheme Determination
- What is mediation?
Mediation is an alternative way of resolving disputes without going to court. During mediation, an experienced and trained individual known as the mediator, guides the parties in dispute to reach a private and amicable settlement.
- Why mediate instead of going to court?
Mediation is a facilitative process which helps parties resolve disputes in a non-confrontational way. As the parties are guided by the mediator to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution, they are usually more satisfied with the outcomes and this helps to preserve their relationship. Mediation is also confidential.
In addition, mediation saves time and money. Unlike going to court which maybe expensive and take months or years, a majority of SMC’s mediation cases are resolved within one working day.
- Why use SMC?
SMC is a one-stop mediation service provider and has a track record since 1997 of successfully resolving disputes. Over 70% of our matters are settled and more than 90% of these were settled within one working day.
From appointing a mediator, to arranging a date and venue for mediation and exchanging of documents, to providing other administrative support, we help to ensure that your mediation sessions are smooth, efficient and stress-free.
SMC also offers other alternative dispute resolution services such as adjudication and neutral evaluation.
SMC is one of four designated mediation service providers under the Mediation Act 2017. This means that mediated settlement agreements administered by us can be recorded and enforceable as a court order with both parties’ consent.
Parties are free to refer a domestic or international commercial dispute to SMC.
- What happens at a mediation session?
During a mediation session, disputing parties will be given opportunities to voice their concerns. The mediator will guide them towards important issues to be resolved, facilitating the negotiation to reach a mutually agreeable solution. Depending on the situation, he or she may speak to each party separately. When an agreement is reached, the terms are recorded and signed by the parties.
All mediation sessions are held in confidence. There are no transcripts or formal recordings of the session. Only the mediator, the parties and/or their authorised representatives and advisors are allowed to be present.
- How much does a mediation cost?
SMC’s mediation fees are pegged to the sum of the claim and counterclaim.
For disputes above $60,000, the fee starts from $972 (inclusive of GST) per party per day. For disputes below $60,000, the fees start from $216 (inclusive of GST) per party for a four-hour session, with an hourly charge thereafter.
There are also various industry mediation schemes which are designed to be affordable. The rates vary from scheme to scheme. For more information, refer to the fee schedules in Our Services page.
- How do I apply for mediation?
You can download the relevant application form here and submit the form by email, fax or mail.
- Can I choose my mediator?
Yes. However, we recommend that you let us appoint a mediator for you. Choosing the right mediator improves the prospects for a successful mediation. We know our mediators well and will select those who are most suitable for your case. If you decide to choose your own mediator, the commercial rates of the mediator will apply instead of SMC’s published fee scales.
- Do I need a lawyer to attend the mediation with me?
It is not compulsory but we encourage you to attend the mediation with your lawyer. Lawyers serve an important role during mediation, especially in drafting the settlement agreement.
- Can one party refer a case to mediation without the agreement of the other party?
No. Mediation can only commence when all parties involved have agreed to it.
If you need assistance in contacting a reluctant party, we can approach his/her on your behalf. Having an independent and neutral institution like SMC broach the idea of mediation with your counterparty may increase the chances of him/her agreeing to it.
- How long does a mediation usually last?
Mediation at SMC typically lasts one day. However, the duration of mediation depends on a variety of factors including the complexity of the case and the needs of the parties.
- What happens when both parties agree to settle in a mediation?
Once parties have agreed to settle, they and/or their legal counsels will record the terms of the agreement. This agreement is a contractual document which will be signed by the parties and is binding on them. It can be converted into a court order which can be enforced even where both parties have not commenced any legal proceedings. This is possible because SMC is one of the designated mediation service providers under the Mediation Act 2017.
- What happens when one of the parties does not fulfil his/her obligations under the settlement agreement?
Settlement agreements made under SMC’s mediation services are enforceable in a court of law.
Collaborative Family Practice
- What is Collaborative Family Practice (CFP)?
CFP is a pre-court collaborative process which allows disputing parties and their CFP lawyers to work together on a solution that suits the family. A distinctive feature of CFP is that if a settlement is not reached during the process and the disputing parties decide to go to court, they will need to instruct new lawyers. This discourages pre-mature termination of the CFP process and disincentivises potential remuneration from litigation for CFP lawyers.
- How is CFP different from the Family Mediation Scheme?
There are no third-party facilitators involved in the CFP process unlike mediation. In CFP, lawyers with specialist training assist their clients in resolving the dispute. If CFP does not result in a settlement, the parties may choose to proceed to mediation.
- What are the benefits of CFP?
CFP is a less stressful and hostile process, which is particularly important if the parties have children. It allows them to be civil towards each other as they work with specially-trained CFP lawyers to negotiate an amicable agreement that best suits the family. The process is also confidential.
- Are all matrimonial disputes suitable for CFP?
Most matrimonial disputes are suitable for CFP, except in cases where one of the parties is incapacitated in some way, or there is a history of violence or substance abuse, or there are serious concerns about dishonesty.
- Why should I use CFP lawyers?
SMC’s panel of CFP lawyers are practising family lawyers with specialist training who may also be accredited mediators. They are appointed to work with the parties to negotiate an agreement that best suits the family.
- What is the duration of a CFP process?
The duration will depend on the number and complexity of the issues. It generally involves four two-hour meetings and additional preparation time.
- What is the cost of a CFP process?
It costs $428 per hour (inclusive of GST) per party if SMC appoints the CFP lawyer for you.
The initial consultation with CFP lawyers is free. A deposit based on the estimated costs will be collected once the lawyers and parties have entered into a CFP participation agreement.
- What happens when a CFP process results in settlement?
If a settlement is reached, the Family Justice Courts will prioritise these cases to record the agreement as consent orders.
- What happens if a settlement is not reached and parties decide to proceed to Court instead?
Parties will need to find new lawyers to represent them in future litigation if the CFP process is terminated.
- What is neutral evaluation?
Neutral evaluation is an adjudicatory process which uses an unbiased third-party known as a neutral evaluator to assess and evaluate a dispute. Parties may use it to resolve entire disagreements or differences in opinions on a single point of law and/or technical issues.
- What is the difference between mediation and neutral evaluation?
In neutral evaluation, a third-party neutral evaluator will give an evaluation or opinion based on the strengths and weaknesses of the case, which may or may not be used to resolve the dispute between parties. This is unlike mediation where the mediator does not assess or provide an opinion on the dispute. The mediation process also allows parties to reach a settlement through their own negotiations.
- Why should I use neutral evaluation?
Neutral evaluation is a fast and cost-effective adjudicatory process which provides parties with an unbiased evaluation of their case. This gives them a clearer sense of their positions if they want to negotiate a settlement. Should the matter proceed to court, it would help parties streamline issues which need to be resolved as well as give them an indication of the probable outcome. Neutral evaluation is also confidential.
- What types of cases are suitable for neutral evaluation?
All types of civil disputes are suitable for neutral evaluation, especially those with preliminary issues which can be resolved early, helping parties save time and cost if the matter proceeds to trial. It can also be used to resolve issues with technical or specialised subject matters which require an expert opinion. In these cases, a specialist neutral evaluator can be appointed.
- How much does a neutral evaluation cost?
The administrative fee for a neutral evaluation costs between $749 and $2,140 (inclusive of GST), depending on the sum in dispute. Parties will also have to pay the neutral evaluator’s fee which ranges from $500 to $1,200 per hour.
- What are the cost benefits of neutral evaluation?
The cost incurred during the speedy process of a neutral evaluation is lower than a court hearing, which may be protracted. In resolving or narrowing disputes through neutral evaluation, parties save time, energy and money. In addition, parties are spared from the emotional stress associated with a highly-charged and adversarial court setting.
- Why spend for yet another professional?
In our adversarial legal system, disputing parties often get so firmly entrenched in their positions when trying to secure the best result in a legal case. As such, actual time, cost and effort spent on the lawsuit may end up being grossly disproportionate to the end result.
In these situations, it would be useful to have an independent neutral evaluator who can step in at any stage of the legal case to provide a “reality check”. This allows parties to examine the strengths and weaknesses of their case, as well as give them an advance indication of the possible outcome if the matter is heard before a judge. After an impartial and objective evaluation, they would have a better understanding of the facets of their dispute. They might also want to reconsider going to court and reinvest their valuable and limited resources of time and money instead into other ways of resolving their differences amicably.
- Will I be ‘laying my cards’ too early?
Although a wait-and-see approach may seem advisable, the perceived benefits of holding out may fizzle out when the case drags on. Also, evidence will have to be disclosed during the discovery and interrogatories processes of court procedure.
- What happens after disputing parties receive a neutral evaluation opinion?
They may choose whether or not to take the neutral evaluator’s opinion as binding when they sign the neutral evaluation agreement at the start of the process. A binding opinion settles the matter in question for parties, helping them to streamline the court process if the dispute proceeds to trial. A non-binding opinion will help parties to understand their case better and focus on the key issues involved. It will also give them a good indication of the probable outcome in a trial.
- What is the education qualification to be eligible to take Strategic Conflict Management for Professionals (SCMP) Module 1, (SCMP) Module 2 and Mediation Skills Assessment (MSA)?
You must have a recognised diploma or degree.
- Do I need to complete SCMP Modules 1 and 2 before sitting for MSA?
Yes. You must also complete Module 1 to be eligible for Module 2.
- Are there any time frames to complete SCMP Module 2 after completing Module 1, and MSA after Module 2?
Yes. You have to complete SCMP Module 2 within two years of completing Module 1 and MSA within two years of completing Module 2. You may also do as many reassessments of MSA during the two years after completing Module 2.
- Who are the trainers and assessors?
SMC trainers and assessors are experienced mediators from different professions. They include district judges, senior lawyers and university professors, as well as other professionals from a broad range of industries.
- What is the passing rate for the assessment?
MSA results are not marked on a curve, hence the passing rate differs from cohort to cohort.
- What are the components of a Mediation Skills Assessment (MSA)?
MSA comprises three components:
- Practical assessment – one-hour role-play as a mediator;
- Written assessment – one-hour open book test and;
- Written assignment – self-reflection.
You must pass all three components to pass MSA and obtain accreditation by SMC.
- What happens after I obtain accreditation by SMC?
You may want to have your skills internationally recognised by applying to be an International Mediation Institute (IMI) Qualified Mediator*.
IMI is a professional standards body for mediation which does not run training or assessment courses that lead to accreditation or certification. It uses registered partners like SMC who run training and/or mediation services.
SMC is the first institution in Singapore to be recognised under IMI’s certified Mediator Training Programme and Qualifying Assessment Programme.
For more information about IMI, please click here.
*Only participants who complete Strategic Conflict Management for Professionals (Module 1) after September 2019 are eligible to apply.