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Legal affairs committee advocates use of mediation for cross-border disputes

A proposed directive to promote the use of mediation, as a less expensive and time-consuming means to solve cross-border civil and commercial disputes than going to court, was backed by the Legal affairs committee in a vote on Tuesday.

Mediation can provide a cost-efficient and quick extra-judicial resolution of disputes. The Commission’s proposal for a directive to promote its use everywhere in the EU was backed by the Legal affairs committee, with some amendments, in a first-reading report by Arlene McCarthy (UK). The report says that recourse to mediation must always be voluntary, even if, in some cases it is advised by a court.

In any event an EU citizen who chose a mediation procedure to resolve dispute would not thereby be precluded from having recourse to an ordinary court. To ensure that any agreement reached by the parties to mediation proceedings is enforced, the report species that it should be applicable in all Member States. MEPs also voted an amendment on confidentiality, to ensure that neither mediators nor the parties involved in the proceedings may disclose information regarding the mediation.

The report also asks Member States to provide training for national mediators and to encourage the drawing up of voluntary codes of conduct to guarantee a fair trial. At a later stage, EU governments should post the list of trained mediators on the internet. The text will be put to a plenary vote during the April session. An opt-out means that the legislation will not apply to Denmark. (EP Press)