Encouraging the use of mediation facilitates the resolution of disputes and helps to avoid the worry, time and cost associated with court-based litigation, thus enabling citizens to secure their legal rights in an efficient way.
The Mediation Directive applies to cross-border disputes in civil and commercial matters. It covers disputes in which at least one of the parties is domiciled in a Member State other than that of any other party on the date on which they agree to use mediation or on the date mediation is ordered by a court.
The principal objective of this legal instrument is to encourage the recourse to mediation in the Member States.
For this the directive contains five substantive rules:
- It obliges each Member State to encourage the training of mediators and to ensure high quality of mediation.
- It gives every judge the right to invite the parties to a dispute to try mediation first if she/he considers it appropriate given the circumstances of the case,
- It provides that agreements resulting from mediation can be rendered enforceable if both parties so request. This can be achieved, for example, by way of approval by a court or certification by a public notary.
- It ensures that mediation takes place in an atmosphere of confidentiality. It provides that the mediator cannot be obliged to give evidence in court about what took place during mediation in a future dispute between the parties to that mediation.
- It guarantees that the parties will not lose their possibility to go to court as a result of the time spent in mediation: the time limits for bringing an action before the court are suspended during mediation.
A European Code of Conduct for Mediators which sets out a number of principles to which individual mediators can voluntarily decide to commit has been developed by a group of stakeholders with the assistance of the European Commission.
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