[Special Issue] #10QuestionswithMaxwell Interview Series: Ban Jiun Ean, Singapore Mediation Centre
This interview is released in conjunction with Singapore Convention Week 2021.
For the first #10QuestionsWithMaxwell feature for #SCWeek2021 special issue, we reached out to Ban Jiun Ean, Executive Director of Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC). A former policymaker at the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) for 9 years since 2001, Jiun Ean’s works focuses on the development of Singapore’s alternative dispute resolution (ADR) industry. His firm belief in the value of mediation of dispute resolution mechanism is rooted in his work for MinLaw’s Community Mediation Centres.
Jiun Ean was also the founding Chief Executive of Maxwell Chambers between 2010 to 2015, during which he spearheaded the company’s establishment as the world’s first integrated dispute resolution centre.
In this interview, Jiun Ean shared his biggest inspiration throughout his career, his mediation style, his onward plans for Singapore Mediation Centre in the next 2-3 years and more.
Read his full interview below:
Q: What inspired you to be a mediator?
A: My personal convictions and faith have always stressed the importance of being a peacemaker. Mediation is the dispute resolution process that is least adversarial and has the strongest ability to maintain good relations between the disputing parties. As such, it was always something that I believed in.
Q: What is your mediation style?
A: Very often, mediation styles arise from personality traits of the mediator. For me, I am a rational person foremost in how I interact with others, so persuading people to see the logical and sensible approach is usually my most effective way of getting things done.
Q: Have you received any interesting cases whereby the mediation outcome is being challenged or questioned? – Mediator to Mediator (Question from Katherine Yap, Chief Executive of Maxwell Chambers)
A: Mediation in general doesn’t get challenged, unless the mediator was guilty of some egregious behaviour. Usually, parties who are not happy with the direction of the mediation will just walk out, or end without a settlement. So, no, I haven’t personally seen any mediations where the outcome was challenged or questioned.
Q: Share some advice to the young individuals who are looking to get into the field of mediation.
A: Recognise the difference between doing mediation occasionally because you are passionate about it, and doing mediation as a full-time job. The latter is very difficult to achieve, and there are only a handful of people around the world who have reached this level. The reality is that most mediators will be doing something else as a full-time job, and mediating when the opportunities arise.
Other #10QuestionsWithMaxwell interviews you may be interested:
Q: Throughout your career, who was (or were) your biggest inspiration(s)?
A: To this day, the person who has impacted me the most in my working style and mindset was my former boss at the Ministry of Law, Ms Chan Lai Fung, who was the Permanent Secretary during some of my years there. She taught me about how to be a good leader in the workplace and we remain in regular contact to this day.
Q: What is one major development you are anticipating in the new ADR space?
A: Undoubtedly the move towards online ADR processes. COVID has upended our world, and ADR has changed mindsets about travelling to a location, particularly international travel. While online ADR is not preferable to face to face meetings in the experience, the advantages will increasingly outweigh the disadvantages, especially as technology improves and people get more used to it.
Q: Could you share with us your plans for Singapore Mediation Centre in the next 2-3 years? What has you most excited about the future?
A: As mentioned earlier, online ADR is going to be critical for all institutions, going forward. At SMC, that’s our current priority, to take small steps forward in launching an online ADR platform, and then to grow it to become more robust and powerful. This will open up opportunities that were previously closed, most notably the ability for us to handle cross-border consumer dispute cases, which are notoriously challenging because of the low-cost element involved.
Q: Tell us some of your most memorable experiences working in Maxwell Chambers when you were the Chief Executive.
A: I enjoy catching up with many friends from overseas who come in to Singapore regularly to arbitrate or attend events. It’s always nice to get perspectives of the world from people who live on the other side of the globe.
Q: Share with us your favourite corner in Maxwell Chambers or Maxwell Chambers Suites.
A: The VIP lounge in Maxwell Chambers is always fun. I don’t get to use it, of course, but I really love how we set it up and the positive response we always get from people who are inside.
Q: Lastly, share 3 fun facts not many know about you.
A: I write fiction novels and have a few already published on Kindle.
I spent a few years making educational card games and board games which are still being used/sold in various locations in Singapore.
My wife and I had a Lord of the Rings-themed wedding dinner, including wearing costumes and decorating the ballroom appropriately.