Brussels, 25 October 2004
The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a directive seeking to promote the use of mediation by citizens and business for all disputes in the field of civil and commercial law. The proposal will provide a predictable and clear legal framework while safeguarding the flexibility and informal nature of the mediation process. The proposal aims to improve access to justice and forms part of the policy to establish the Union as an area of freedom, security and justice.
“The value of increasing the use of mediation rests principally in the advantages of this dispute resolution mechanism itself: a quicker, simpler and more cost-efficient way to solve disputes, said Antonio Vitorino, Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs. Mediation allows for taking into account a wider range of interests of the parties, with a greater chance of reaching an agreement which will be voluntarily respected, and which preserves an amicable and sustainable relationship between them.”
The proposed directive contributes to better access to justice through two
types of provisions: first, to ensure a sound relationship between mediation and
judicial proceedings, by establishing minimum common rules in the Community on a
number of key aspects of civil procedure such as suspension of limitation
periods, confidentiality, and enforcement of settlement agreements. Secondly, by
providing the necessary tools for the courts of the Member States to actively
promote the use of mediation, without nevertheless making mediation compulsory
or subject to specific sanctions.
These two initiatives taken together – the legislative proposal for a Directive on the one hand and the self-regulatory initiative on a code of conduct on the other - provide for a full response by the Commission to the Council conclusions of 2000 on the development of alternative dispute resolution methods in the EU, and were prepared through a wide-ranging public consultation process launched with the publication of a Green Paper in 2002.