The “Sharia-compliance” requirement to safeguard enforcement of mediated settlements in the MENA region

convention singapore

Settlement agreements reached through mediation are mere contracts and not court decisions. As such, and in the absence of a statutory framework, enforcement of mediated settlements can only be carried out voluntarily by the parties. Failing which, the aggrieved party must enter into a court or arbitral process through which the defaulting party is compelled to comply with the settlement agreement.

Under the Singapore Convention, and through a simplified and streamlined procedure, the purely private contractual agreement becomes enforceable in all contracting states and is granted a sui generis status comparable to the status of arbitral awards under the New York Convention.

To date, fifty-three countries have signed the Singapore Convention, including three countries of the MENA region: Jordan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Five countries have already ratified the Convention (Singapore, Fiji Islands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Belarus), which entered into force on 12 September 2020.

Article 5 of the Singapore Convention provides for several grounds to refuse recognition of the mediated settlement and, more particularly, when “granting relief would be contrary to the public policy’ (a parallel can be draw with Article 5(2)(b) of the New York Convention).

When enforcement is sought in a MENA region country, particular attention should be paid to the compliance of mediated settlements with the Shari’a insofar as it is a core component of public policy in these jurisdictions, notably in three ratifying countries, i.e. Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

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