Brussels, 23 April 2008
A boost for mediation in civil and
commercial matters: European Parliament endorses new rules
A Directive on certain aspects of mediation in
civil and commercial matters was adopted today 23 April 2008. The purpose of the
Directive is to facilitate access to cross-border dispute resolution and to
promote the amicable settlement of disputes by encouraging the use of mediation
and by ensuring a sound relationship between mediation and judicial proceedings.
The Directive is one of the follow-up actions to the Green Paper
on alternative dispute resolution presented by the Commission in 2002, the other
being the European Code of Conduct for Mediators established by a group of
stakeholders with the assistance of the Commission and launched in July 2004.
Welcoming the adoption of this Directive, Vice-President Jacques Barrot
said: “This Directive fulfils the political objective established in
October 1999 by the European Council of Tampere, which - in the context of
encouraging better access to justice in Europe - called for the creation of
alternative, extrajudicial procedures for dispute resolution in the Member
States. Mediation can provide cost-effective and quick extrajudicial resolution
of disputes in civil and commercial matters through processes tailored to the
needs of the parties. Agreements resulting from mediation are more likely to be
complied with voluntarily and help preserve an amicable and sustainable
relationship between the parties.
The Commission proposed the Directive in October 2004 (IP/04/1288). 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
- 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 judgment 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
- 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 today’s adoption of the
Directive, Member States will be given 36 months to convert the new rules into