MinLaw will mediate neighbour disputes, cement S’pore as intellectual property hub: Edwin Tong

Going forward, the Ministry of Law will encourage community dispute resolutions, help businesses seize opportunities in the legal and intellectual property (IP) sectors and better the use of land in the religious community.

Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong outlined this direction during the Ministry of Law’s Committee of Supply debate yesterday (Feb 27).

Abridged excerpts from Minister Tong’s speech follow.

Improving community dispute resolution

We intend to channel as much of these disputes as possible through the mediated, conciliatory route that, I think we all accept, is the best way of resolving a neighbour dispute.

Mediation can preserve and often even strengthen the relationship between neighbours by providing them with a platform in the hands of a very good trained mediator to resolve the disputes amicably in very much a win-win session.

And the data shows that mediation has been, by and large, successful. More than 80 per cent of the voluntary mediation cases handled at the CMC, the Community Mediation Centre, were successfully settled. 

To improve the take-up of mediation at an early stage, we plan to mandate mediation for three categories of cases. First, mediation will be mandatory for certain types of community disputes, and penalties will be imposed for not attending mandatory mediation.

Second, for voluntary mediation cases previously mediated and settled at the CMC, but the mediated issues have resurfaced, or there’s a new dispute related to what was mediated previously the CMC will be able to mandate remediation. 

Third, we will in general require disputing neighbours to undergo mediation before they file a case at the CDRT (Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals). This will prevent disputes from unnecessarily escalating to a court process.

The PAP Government is cementing Singapore as an IA/IP hub

Let me share briefly our IP strategy, which aims to propel businesses as they digitalise and innovate in the global economy, which is intrinsically linked with Intangible Assets [IA]. 

MinLaw, MOF and MTI are driving the Singapore IP Strategy 2030, or SIPS 2030. SIPS 2030 is a 10-year blueprint to strengthen and cement Singapore’s position as a global IA and IP hub. 

We’ve been working to support businesses to leverage their IA and their IP for growth and this year we will be introducing the Intangibles Disclosure Framework. The intention is to provide a consistent basis for businesses to disclose and communicate details of their intangibles framework so that everyone speaks the same language and understand what that disclosure is meant to describe. 

This will provide stakeholders with comparable information about the business intangibles, so that more informed assessments of the business and financial prospects can be made. 

In addition, we will launch GoBusiness IP Grow. It is an enterprise-centric online platform which will help businesses understand their own IP needs based on their business activities, match businesses to appropriate IP services providers based on the particular business model that they are practising and also provide one-stop access to enterprise IA- and IP-related resources. 

Bettering land use for places of worship

Finally, let me now turn to address the review of the land allocation and pricing framework for places of worship raised by Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr. Jamus Lim. We have in fact given a previous Parliamentary reply which Ms Lim also noted. 

And it was noted that — let me just reiterate — that we have been reviewing the land allocation and pricing framework for places of worship, to see how the prices can be mitigated.

We’ve been looking at this. And as members will appreciate, this has been the subject of very careful study, given its implications on land allocation and pricing framework. Details will be released when we have completed the study. 

In the meantime, the Government has been working with affected religious organisations to assist them in mitigating the increase in land prices. 

So for instance, this will include offering the religious organisations a short-term tenancy extension or renewal, pending the outcome of this review. 

This is so that these organisations would not be compromised by entering into a long-term lease arrangement on the present framework before the review is completed.

Images via GoBusiness, MinLaw