New act on mediation
Mediation will relieve courts - the Act of 10 September 2015 amending certain Acts in relation to promotion of amicable dispute resolution methods (Journal of Laws of 13 October 2015).
On January 1, 2016 a new law will become effective, implementing a system of procedural and organizational improvements to encourage parties to try to settle disputes amicably before referring the matter to court or during court proceedings and to ensure appropriate quality of mediation services. These changes are intended to shorten and streamline court trials and reduce costs of disputes, both for citizens and the state. A wider use of mediation will allows parties to conclude their disputes a in cheaper, faster and less formal way than through courts, and entrepreneurs will retain their existing economic relations. Proposed amendments include promoting the use of mediation and arbitration in civil cases (including family, business and labour-related cases).
I. Changes in mediation procedure
- Implementation of the obligation to inform in the lawsuit whether the parties have attempted to settle the dispute amicably before referring the case to court. In case such an attempt is not made, the plaintiff should explain the reasons behind this. This will make the parties realize that any dispute should be preceded by an assessment on whether the case may be resolved amicably, and this will allow the judge to make a decision on referring the parties to mediation during the court proceedings.
- Enhancing the obligation to inform the court about the possibility of referring the case to mediation, especially at the initial stage of proceedings. The judge's obligation to assess whether the matter can be resolved through mediation will be stressed more. Judge will be able to order the parties to participate in an information meeting, where they will be informed on mediation, or call upon the parties for a closed door hearing. Court will be able to refer the parties to mediation at any stage of the case and more than once during the proceedings.
- Sorting out procedural issues relating to mediation. The parties will have priority when choosing a mediator, and the mediator will be able to read the case file once the parties start mediation. Contact details of the parties will be provided by the court to the mediator as soon as possible, and mediation will be able to be scheduled for a period of up to 3 months.
- If no pre-trial mediation is initiated for reasons beyond the control of the creditor (e.g. the other party does not agree to mediation), creditor retains the positive effects associated with the discontinuation of the period of limitation of the claim, if he/she brings a lawsuit within 3 months.
- Implementation of qualification requirements for permanent mediators in order to ensure high quality services. Mediators having necessary knowledge and skills can be added to the list of permanent mediators available on the Internet, maintained by President of regional court.
- Qualifying the cost of mediation conducted under court referral as costs of court proceedings, which will allow poor people to be exempt from the cost of mediation.
- Creation of a system of financial incentives regarding costs of court proceedings, such as e.g. request for approval of an out-of-court settlement made in presence of mediator will be exempt from court fees. If a settlement is made before the start of the hearing, the court will return to the parties the entire court fee paid in.
- When determining attorney/legal counsel's fees, the court will take into account his/her commitment to the activities taken in order to resolve the case amicably before filing the lawsuit also.
- Court will obtain the right to charge a party that manifestly unreasonably refused to submit to mediation, for part of the costs incurred as a result of evidently reprehensible and disloyal behaviour of the party towards the court or the opponent party.
- Legal framework for the Mediation Coordinator function in regional courts. Activities of the coordinators will contribute to the wider use of mediation, which is to relieve courts. Coordinators will be appointed from among judges who are leaders of mediation in their respective communities.
- In the list of permanent mediators kept by presidents of regional courts there will be information, included at the request of mediator, on entering the mediator into lists maintained by NGOs and universities. Additional information will broaden the scope of data available to the parties and judge, and will help facilitate the decision on the selection of a mediator.
II. Changes in arbitration
- Implementation of a single-instance procedure for cases being decided in common courts for petitions to revoke arbitration awards and for recognition and enforcement of judgements of foreign arbitration courts and settlements concluded before those courts.
- Reduction of the time limit for bringing a petition to revoke arbitration award from three to two months.
Full text of the Act is available HERE.