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Implementing legislation

In January 2024, the Sri Lankan Parliament enacted legislation so as to give effect to the Singapore Convention. This came to be known as the Recognition and Enforcement of International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (Act No. 5 of 2024) (the “Mediation Act”). This piece of legislation will come into force six months from the date of ratification on 28 August 2024.

Procedure for Enforcing International Mediated Settlement Agreements

Under section 8 of the Mediation Act, the applicant seeking to rely on an international mediated settlement agreement (“iMSA”) will need to show evidence such as the original iMSA and that the settlement agreement was a result of mediation (amongst other requirements). The courts may also request for other documents as necessary so as to satisfy this section. The grounds which parties may rely on to resist enforcement of iMSAs under section 9 of the Mediation Act are the same as Article 5 of the Singapore Convention.

Pursuant to section 10 of the Mediation Act, parties may also request the High Court to set aside the iMSA that has been recorded as a decree of court if they were absent during this application process before the court.

Section 11 of the Mediation Act also posits that where a party has made an application for enforcement of an iMSA under section 6 of the same act and there are parallel proceedings before “any other court, … arbitral tribunal or … any other institution having jurisdiction in Sri Lanka or in any other State”, the High Court may adjourn the current proceedings or order for security if it is of the opinion that the parallel proceedings are likely to affect the application under section 6.

Other national mediation laws

Commercial Mediation Centre of Sri Lanka Act No. 44 of 2000 regulates commercial mediation in Sri Lanka. The Commercial Mediation Centre of Sri Lanka was established pursuant to this piece of legislation. The centre is then obliged under the statute to promote mediation and conciliation for mediation disputes. The centre also has its own set of rules governing the mediation process and other relevant matters.

There are also other mediation legislations such as the Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance (No. 19 of 1934) which spurred the development of other statutes such as the Industrial Disputes Act (No. 43 of 1950) and the Paddy Lands Act (No. 1 of 1958). The Conciliation Boards Act (No. 10 of 1958) was also passed in 1958 to formalise community conciliation. The Mediation Board Act (No. 72 of 1988) then recognised mediation as a dispute resolution mechanism.

For certain categories of disputes such as land disputes and other disputes resulting from the 2004 tsunami disaster, the Mediation Boards (Special Categories of Disputes) Act (No. 21 of 1988) required boards of mediators who are experts in these matters.

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