The International Finance Corporation (IFC) promoted mediation to resolve business disputes and build investors’ trust in commercial litigations at a workshop held on March 8 in Ho Chi Minh City that provided participants with an overview of commercial mediation as an advanced alternative dispute resolution method in East Asia, as part of its efforts to promote alternative dispute resolution.

In cooperation with the Vietnam Business Lawyers Club (VBLC) and the Judicial Academy, the IFC elaborated on the role of counsels with regard to helping clients handle mediation processes. The aim is to improve Vietnam’s investment climate, enabling businesses to grow and create jobs.

Globally, commercial mediation is a favorable popular alternative dispute resolution among business parties with the help of a neutral independent third person: a mediator. The mediator uses a wide variety of techniques to guide the process in a constructive direction and to help the parties reach a mutually-beneficial and lasting solution. This saves both parties lengthy and costly court proceedings.

In Vietnam, the Decree on Commercial Mediation enacted in February 2017 encourages the business community to refer to commercial mediation as an alternative dispute resolution process. Mediation results are recognized and enforced by law.

Participants also had the opportunity to draw lessons on using mediation for resolving commercial disputes and the role of counsels in the East Asia region, including Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea. International experts explained why businesses should ideally consider resolving commercial disputes through mediation. Companies in Vietnam can currently use mediation services from the Vietnam Mediation Center (VMC) at the Vietnam International Arbitration Center (VIAC).

“Mediation is still rather new for Vietnamese businesses,” said Mr. Dang Xuan Hop, VBLC Chairman. “However, this should quickly become a popular dispute resolution mechanism for businesses here simply because it is cheap, fast and efficient. Counsels can help develop this process effectively by recommending it to their clients and helping their clients through the mediation process in the fastest and most cost-effective way.”

In addition to workshops to raise awareness, the IFC, in partnership with the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), has been supporting capacity building among Vietnamese mediators. With the IFC’s support, 16 mediators were accredited by the well-known London-based Center for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) in January 2018. The center will be training additional 18 potential mediators in March to provide them with specific mediation skills and international best practice in mediation proceedings.

“Mediation is an effective way to resolve disputes because it saves time and money,” said Mr. Kyle Kelhofer, IFC Country Manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. “As the Vietnamese economy continues to grow and generate more commercial transactions, a streamlined dispute resolution option will give the private sector more confidence to engage in business transactions.”