Article contributed by Goh Siu Lin, Chairperson, Family Law Committee; photo by Florence Laway, Senior Administrative Assistant, Bar Council
The Bar Council Family Law Committee (“FLC”) held a talk on 23 Feb 2018 at the Bar Council Raja Aziz Addruse Auditorium, to introduce the concept of collaborative law. Some 65 family law practitioners from throughout the country attended.
Collaborative law is an emerging trend of alternative dispute resolution in family law. This concept originated in America and is gaining popularity in Singapore and Hong Kong. It is a healthy legal process, designed for couples who have decided to end their marriage, resolving their conflicts by employing collaborative law techniques. Each party would appoint their respective lawyers, whose focus is on resolving the legal issues out of court with the assistance of other collaborative professionals. The adversarial approach of litigation and uncertain outcome of court, is avoided.
Kay Chan, a collaborative law expert from Hong Kong who has been active in promoting collaborative law in the local, regional, and international contexts, touched on the importance of using collaborative law in resolving family disputes. He played a video which powerfully illustrated through the eyes of a child, the devastating impact of divorce on parent–child relationship. He then explained how this may be alleviated if parties opted instead to resolve their legal issues through the collaborative law process.
This was followed by another video of a couple’s real–life experience of undergoing the collaborative divorce process to end their marriage. This thought–provoking video showed how various experts assisted the couple to discover their goals, gathered information and helped them reach an agreement that best meet their needs. The process provided an efficient, cost–effective process for a more enduring settlement.
Rajan Chettiar is a lawyer and an Associate Mediator with the Singapore Mediation Centre. He is also one of the first collaborative lawyers in Singapore and shared his personal experience of handling Singapore’s first collaborative family law case in early 2013.
In conclusion, the two–hour talk received good reviews from participants who were keen to be trained as collaborative law professionals. An inaugural training session on collaborative law is targeted to be held in November 2018.