Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Empirical Research - Program Description



The world of international dispute resolution is at a turning point. Whether we are talking about arbitration, mediation or litigation, international dispute resolution systems are evolving rapidly. Think of the emergence of international commercial courts in ascendant global cities such as Dubai and Singapore, the UNCITRAL spotlight on reforming investment arbitration, the United Nation’s adoption of the Singapore Convention on Mediation, and the advancement of technology to support online dispute resolution.

The Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Empirical Research program aims to conduct leading research on the most challenging issues related to the ‘appropriate dispute resolution’ of cross-border disputes. The Program offers an Asian-based platform for robust global discourse on dispute resolution ecosystems, encompassing litigation, arbitration, mediation and mixed mode dispute resolution procedures.

The major project within this program is the SIDRA Survey on IDR commissioned by the Singapore Ministry of Law. The first iteration of the SIDRA IDR Survey was administered in partnership with PwC Southeast Asia Consulting. The SIDRA Survey aims to learn more about how businesses and their legal advisers make decisions about resolving cross-border disputes, and why. There are five aspects of the SIDRA survey that make it unique.

First, it is 100% user-centric. All respondents are users and they are identified either as external legal counsel, in-house legal counsel or C-Suite executives of corporations that engage in cross-border trade. Views of neutrals, academics, institutional providers and other non-user stakeholders are not represented in this survey and so the data really speaks for the users.

Second, the views are based on user experiences and not just preferences. Once respondents indicated that they had used a particular dispute resolution process, they were then asked to respond to a series of specific questions in relation to that mechanism. If they did not have experience with a particular process, the survey directed them to the next process category.

Third, the survey focuses on dispute resolution mechanisms for cross-border disputes only, and not for domestic disputes. International dispute resolution involves different considerations compared to domestic settings and we did not want to confuse the two.

Fourth, the survey has been distributed internationally in multiple languages of English, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, French and Spanish. In this way we wanted to reach a more diverse selection of users compared to those who primarily work in English.

Finally, we sought to avoid examining any single dispute resolution mechanism in isolation. Dispute resolution developments are increasingly interconnected as the emergence of hybrid dispute resolution and (international) court referrals to mediation show.

The SIDRA Survey was rolled out for the first time in 2019 and the reports of its findings, Currents of Change, is now available. The Survey will be executed every second year: again in 2021, then in 2023 and so on. The in-between years will be devoted to deepening the quality of our empirical insights through one-on-one interviews, focus groups and deep dive questionnaires on specific topics.

In addition to the Survey, SIDRA holds events to share its IDR research findings and promote dialogue on issues and implications that flow from it. SIDRA also engages with a range of partners to collaborate on IDR activities and events in Singapore and internationally.