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Free mediation offered to couples, vendors in dispute over wedding events hit by heightened alert rules

SINGAPORE — Wedding couples and their vendors affected by stricter Covid-19 safe distancing rules during the heightened alert phase will be able to receive free mediation from the Ministry of Law (MinLaw), with the consent of both parties.

Free mediation offered to couples, vendors in dispute over wedding events hit by heightened alert rules

A mediation service is available for couples and vendors caught in disputes while planning wedding events scheduled between May 8 and July 31, 2021.

  • Free mediation is offered to wedding couples and their vendors affected by stricter Covid-19 safe distancing rules during the heightened alert phase 
  • Parties may start applying for this programme from July 14
  • Only parties that are in a contract and those whose wedding were supposed to be held between May 8 and July 31 are eligible

 

SINGAPORE — Wedding couples and their vendors affected by stricter Covid-19 safe distancing rules during the heightened alert phase will be able to receive free mediation from the Ministry of Law (MinLaw), with the consent of both parties.

In a press release on Monday (July 12), MinLaw announced that it will be introducing this free mediation programme for parties in dispute over wedding events that were supposed to have been held between May 8 and July 31 this year.

The Government’s Covid-19 task force announced on May 4 that Singapore would be going into a state of heightened alert from May 8.

Ten days later, it further tightened restrictions and wedding receptions were not allowed, causing many scheduled weddings to be pushed back or cancelled.

MinLaw said that this free mediation service will be provided to facilitate settlement between these couples and their vendors, if both parties agree to mediate.

It added that while some parties have been able to work out alternatives, such as agreeing to reschedule or downsize the event, not everyone has been able to resolve their disagreements.

Parties who apply for this programme have to fulfil two criteria to be eligible:

  1. Both parties must have a contractual agreement, written or otherwise

  2. The scheduled wedding must be between May 8 and July 31

They have to submit their request for mediation from Wednesday until Sept 10, 2021.

MinLaw said that mediation would be quickened if both parties agree to do so even before the application is submitted. However, if one party has not yet agreed to mediate, it will receive a copy of the request for mediation after the other party makes the application, and they have to decide whether they want to mediate.

Once both parties agree, MinLaw will arrange the session and allocate a mediator, who is a “neutral, trained professional''.

MinLaw hopes to be able to hold the session, which will last for two hours via teleconference, within two weeks after both parties agree to mediate.

And if both parties can come to a consensus, the mediator will assist them to draw up a settlement agreement.

“We encourage eligible parties to participate in the programme with an open mind, and to be fair and reasonable to each other.

“The Covid-19 restrictions have affected both wedding couples and their vendors, and mutual understanding of the difficulties faced will help them reach a better outcome,” MinLaw said.

Mr Lim Keng Kian, 33, whose wedding was cancelled after it was scheduled to be held on May 22, said that this mediation service is not likely to be useful for the predicament he faces.

He is seeking to retrieve the deposit he has paid to a Chinese restaurant where his wedding reception was supposed to be held.

Thee restaurant has told him to postpone the wedding, but Mr Lim, a customer service officer at a trading company, does not wish to engage its services any longer due to the “bad relationship” with the sales team.

“When the government restrictions kicked in, they told us that this is the Government’s problem and not theirs,” he said.

Mr Lim believes that the Chinese restaurant, which has not replied to queries from TODAY, would not be willing to mediate based on his earlier interactions with them.

“Mediation is just forcing the couple to accept (the restaurant's terms). It will have the same outcome,” he said.

“The way (the restaurant's staff members) talk and handle (the problem), no matter which couple went to 'bang table' (make demands), nothing is resolved.”

Mr Lim claimed that several other couples who signed a contract with the same restaurant chain are in a similar predicament.

However, another person planning a wedding, Ms Geraldine, a 29-year-old account who declined to give her full name, believes that this free mediation service will provide more resources for couples going through such situations.

Back in March, when the Government announced that weddings could accommodate more than 100 people but with pre-event testing, Ms Geraldine was in a fix because she had signed a contract with the venue provider that she would book more seats if the Government relaxes its stance at least two months before her banquet.

She did not expect that the increase in capacity limit would come with pre-event testing, which would mean she might have to incur extra costs to pay for her guests’ Covid-19 swab tests.

Her venue provider, however, eventually agreed to allow them to hold the wedding reception at a later date.

“Back then when we were trying to resolve the conflict, there weren't any resources. If we want to get a lawyer, it will be expensive. Free mediation will help couples in this kind of situation,” she said.

Ms Geraldine also said that venue providers may be more willing to mediate given that this service is provided by the Government, as it gives the impression that the authorities are aware of couples and vendors who are in a bind.

However, she is not sure how successful this programme will be.

Related topics

wedding F&B cancellation Covid-19 coronavirus mediation minlaw

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