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Alternative dispute resolution

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The European Union wishes to take stock of the current situation with regard to alternative dispute resolution in civil and commercial law: to initiate a broad-based consultation of those involved in a certain number of legal issues, which have been raised as regards alternative dispute resolution in civil and commercial law.

ACT

Green Paper on alternative dispute resolution in civil and commercial law [COM(2002) 196 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

The Green Paper is part of the work being carried out by the European Community with a view to creating an area of freedom, security and justice, and more particularly, providing better access to justice.

As a follow-up to the Vienna action plan and the conclusions of the Tampere European Council, the Council (Justice and Home Affairs) asked the Commission to present a Green Paper on alternative dispute resolution in civil and commercial law other than arbitration, which would take stock of the current situation and launch broad consultation on the measures to be taken. Priority should be given to examining the possibility of laying down basic principles, either in general or in specific areas, which would provide the necessary guarantees to ensure that out-of-court settlements offer the same guarantee of certainty as court settlements.

In its Green Paper, the Commission recalls that these new forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) must not be seen as a remedy for the difficulties encountered by the courts, but as a more consensual method for achieving social harmony, in many cases, more appropriate, than recourse to the courts or arbitration.

Alternative dispute resolution, like mediation, brings parties together in order to look for a solution to their dispute instead of setting one against the other where normally one emerges as the winner and the other the loser. Demand for such a remedy is very visible, for example, in family conflicts, but it has potential for much wider use in many other types of dispute. By giving a great deal of information and raising issues, the Green Paper provides the opportunity to familiarise a wide spectrum of the population with the new forms of dispute resolution (those brought before the courts, magistrates and the legal profession).

The main aim of the Green Paper is to strike the right balance between these flexible processes while ensuring quality and consistency with judicial procedures.

The Green Paper also ensures better readability of the measures and initiatives which have been or are taken by the Member States and at Community level.

Lastly, by publishing the Green Paper, the Commission is taking part in the discussions in the Member States and at international level on how best to provide the optimum environment for promoting alternative dispute resolution.

The 21 questions in the Green Paper relate to the essence of the various modes of alternative dispute resolution such as clauses in contracts, limitation periods, confidentiality, the validity of consent given, the effectiveness of agreements generated by the process, the training of third parties, their accreditation and the rules governing their liability.

For further information, please consult the full version of the Green Paper.

RELATED ACTS

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2004 on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters [COM(2004) 718 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Following development of a code of conduct for mediators, approved in October 2004 by several experts in mediation, on 22 October 2007 the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Directive.
This proposal, far from regulating or harmonising the related laws of the Member States, aims to encourage the use of mediation as an alternative means of resolving conflicts, national as well as cross-border.

After defining the terms „mediation" and „mediator", the proposal establishes existing rules with regard to:

Last updated: 06.05.2002
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