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Alternative dispute resolution: mediation

This Directive facilitates the use of mediation as a method of settling disputes in civil and commercial matters.


Directive 2008/52/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters.


Through this Directive the European Union intends to encourage amicable dispute resolution, particularly through the use of mediation *.

The Directive applies to cross-border disputes in civil and commercial matters, with the exception of revenue, customs or administrative matters or the liability of the State for acts or omissions in the exercise of state authority. It does not apply in Denmark.

The Directive therefore provides that Member States should authorise the courts to suggest mediation to the litigants, without, however, compelling them to use it.

Enforcement of agreements reached through mediation

Although the agreements reached through mediation are generally more likely to be implemented voluntarily, the Directive requires all the Member States to establish a procedure whereby an agreement may, at the request of the parties, be confirmed in a judgment, decision or authentic act by a court or public authority.

This will allow mutual recognition and enforcement throughout the EU of agreements reached through mediation, under the same conditions as those established for the recognition and enforcement of court decisions in civil and commercial matters and in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility.

Suspension of limitation periods

Member States must ensure that the parties are not prevented from initiating judicial proceedings or arbitration following mediation due to the expiry of the prescription periods.

Confidentiality and mediation

Neither mediators nor those involved in the mediation process are compelled to give evidence in judicial proceedings regarding information obtained during the mediation process. This is permissible only:

  • where necessary for overriding considerations of public policy, particularly to protect the physical integrity of a person, etc.;
  • where disclosure of the content of the agreement resulting from mediation is necessary in order to implement or enforce that agreement.

Member States must also encourage the training of mediators, as well as the development and application of voluntary codes of conduct for the profession.


This Directive follows the 2002 Green Paper on alternative dispute resolution and the code of conduct for mediators produced in 2004.

Key terms in the act
  • Mediation: a process whereby two or more parties to a dispute attempt by themselves, on a voluntary basis, to reach an agreement on the settlement of their dispute with the assistance of a mediator.


ActEntry into forceDate of transposition in the Member StateOfficial Journal

Directive 2008/52/EC


21.5.2011 (Article 10: 21.11.2010)

OJ L 136 of 24.5.2008

Last updated: 05.12.2011

See also

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