George Lim SC of Wee Tay & Lim takes an in-depth look at the history and development of mediation in Asia:
“While arbitration currently appears an attractive way to resolve cross-border disputes, mediation is clearly a more timely and cost-efficient method of dispute resolution. In my view, it is only a matter of time before the international business community comes to the realisation that they should routinely attempt mediation before resorting to litigation or arbitration.”
A long time ago, in a small village in the Malay Peninsula, two neighbours, Mohamad and Abdullah, had a long-standing dispute over the boundary of their respective lands. The dispute caused a huge rift between them and their families. Finally, both parties were persuaded by the community to see the village head to resolve the problem.
A thousand miles away, in a remote Chinese village in what is now known as Hong Kong, Chan and Leung were vegetable farmers who had gone into business together. When they passed away, the business was inherited by their eldest sons, who could not see eye to eye on how to run things. Rather than shut down the business, Chan and Leung’s heirs decided to see the Cantonese clan leader in their village for a solution.
This was how disputes were traditionally resolved in many parts of Asia hundreds of years ago.