EU Directive - Mediation in Civil and Commercial Matters
The European Parliament and the EU Council on 23 April 2008 gave the go-ahead for an EU law to encourage mediation for cross-border legal disputes. The proposed directive is aimed at promoting the use of mediation as a faster and cheaper alternative to going to court in civil and commercial cross-border disputes.
The Directive facilitates recourse to mediation by strengthening the legal guarantees accompanying it, thus giving real added value to citizens and businesses in the European Union. The key components of the Directive are as follows:
- The Directive obliges Member States to encourage the training of mediators and the development of, and adherence to, voluntary codes of conduct and other effective quality control mechanisms concerning the provision of mediation services.
- The Directive gives every Judge in the Community, at any stage of the proceedings, the right to suggest that the parties attend an information meeting on mediation and, if the Judge deems it appropriate, to invite the parties to have recourse to mediation.
- The Directive enables parties to give an agreement concluded following mediation a status similar to that of a Court judgement by rendering it enforceable. This can be achieved, for example, by way of judicial approval or notarial certification, thereby allowing such agreements to be enforceable in the Member States under existing Community rules.
- The Directive ensures that mediation takes place in an atmosphere of confidentiality and that information given or submissions made by any party during mediation cannot be used against that party in subsequent judicial proceedings if the mediation fails. This provision is essential to give parties confidence in, and to encourage them to make use of, mediation. To this end, the Directive provides that the mediator cannot be compelled to give evidence about what took place during mediation in subsequent judicial proceedings between the parties.
- The provision of the Directive on periods of limitation and prescription will ensure that parties that have recourse to mediation will not be prevented from going to court as a result of the time spent on mediation. The Directive thus preserves the parties’ access to justice should mediation not succeed.
Following adoption of the Directive, EU Member States will be given 36 months to convert the new rules into national law.
Texts adopted by Parliament - Wednesday, 23 April 2008 - Strasbourg
For further information, see EUROPA press release.