In March 1996, then Minister for Law, Professor S Jayakumar tasked an inter-agency Committee to explore how alternative dispute resolution processes, and in particular mediation, could be further promoted in Singapore. This led to the formation of the Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution in May 1996.
The Committee comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Law, Ministry of Community Development, Ministry of Home Affairs, the Courts, Attorney General's Chambers, the Singapore Academy of Law, the National University of Singapore, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, the Law Society of Singapore and Members of Parliament.
In July 1997, the Committee submitted a Report recommending that in order to prevent Singaporeans from becoming too litigious, less expensive and non-adversarial methods of dispute resolution should be introduced. These should cater to a wide range of social, community and commercial conflicts.
Noting that mediation reflects important aspects of our Asian tradition and culture that are worthy of preservation, the Committee recommended that mediation, in particular, should be promoted to resolve social and community disputes. Pursuant to the recommendations of the Committee, the Ministry of Law set up Community Mediation Centres (CMCs) to help develop a more harmonious, civil and gracious community, where social conflicts can be resolved amicably.
The CMC opened its doors to the Singapore public in January 1998, with the first centre, CMC (Regional East), located at the Marine Parade District Hall. Previously, the CMCs were located in three different locations – CMC (Central), CMC (Regional North) and CMC (State Courts).