MEDIATION IN UKRAINE: LAWYERS VS. CLIENTS

It is a well-known fact that lawyers traditionally lead the mediation resistance movement and Ukraine is no exception. Moreover, many Ukrainian lawyers lack general knowledge about the alternative means of dispute settlement, adhering to traditional litigation without any hint of hesitation. This can be explained by the fact that Ukrainian law schools only recently started to offer comprehensive courses on arbitration and other alternatives to litigation. Those recent law school graduates who have some theoretical knowledge of mediation and other ADR methods are often reluctant to share it with their supervisors, mistakenly thinking that these supervisors already possess deep knowledge of various dispute settlement methods.

As a result, the only alternative to litigation that the majority of experienced Ukrainian lawyers may consider offering their clients is international arbitration. Local arbitration, mediation, etc., are treated as a taboo topic when discussing dispute settlement options with a client.

The other factor which does not help to combat the general hostility towards mediation is that law firms, in general, do not wish to invest in mediation training for their lawyers. The main argument is that there is insufficient demand from clients for this service and, therefore, it is hard to foresee a return on such investment in the near future. For some reason, management teams at law firms do not realise that even if having their own lawyers certified as mediators may not bring any direct material gains, these lawyers can effectively represent clients at all stages of the mediation process as they would know the specifics of the mediation method.

Jan-Mar 2013 issue

ICC Ukraine