Court proceedings are quite often costly and time-consuming. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, in particular mediation, bring constructive solutions to existing disagreements, saving time and money and helping to maintain and even strengthen the relationship between disputing parties.

The EU Directive on Mediation

The EU Directive 2008/52/EC on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters adopted on 21 May 2008 and in force since 21 May 2011 (Directive) became a major step in establishing mediation in Europe. The Directive applies to cross-border disputes. However, nothing prevents a Member State from extending its application to domestic disputes as well, which has been done by a number of countries, including France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Belgium. By contrast, in the Netherlands and England and Wales, the Directive has been implemented only with respect to cross-border disputes.

Implementation of the Directive

The implementation process was finalised in the majority of Member States on time. However, infringement proceedings for failure to comply on time with the Directive were initiated in respect of nine countries. Thus, in July 2011 ‘letters of formal notice’ were sent to the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Cyprus, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Finland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. Finland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom notified the Commission about national measures taken for transposing the Directive and infringement proceedings were terminated as a result. However, the other six countries failed to do so and received a reasoned opinion, as per the announcement of the Commission on 24 November 2011. Nevertheless, as of today the implementation of the Directive has been completed in five out of these six states.

Oct-Dec 2013 issue

Association for International Arbitration