Kourkoumelis & Partners News Mediation in Greece
Mediation in Greece
12/02/2014 10:33

Mediation in Greece 

The Greek legislation has introduced the implementation of mediation in civil and commercial law by Law 3898/2010, which incorporates the Directive 2008/52/EC. The aforementioned Greek Law applies to any mediation regarding civil and commercial disputes, which take place in Greece regardless to whether a claim is a cross-border one or not.

Mediation is a structured process, whereby two or more parties attempt to resolve a dispute on a voluntary basis, with a view to reaching an agreement on the settlement with the assistance of a Mediator. There are not further requirements for parties and lawyers to consider mediation as a dispute resolution option.

The Mediator is a lawyer accredited as Mediator by the Ministry of Justice, who is asked to conduct a mediation in an effective and impartial way.

The Court during a trial of a civil or a commercial dispute may, at any stage, invite the parties to use mediation in order to settle their dispute, in case they agree. If the parties comply with such invitation, the Court postpones the hearing of the case for at least three (3) months varying up six (6) months.

Prior to the mediation process, the parties undertake in writing the obligation to respect the confidentiality of the procedure. The statements made or the information acquired during mediation proceedings cannot subsequently be used in Court should the mediation prove unsuccessful. Therefore, the Mediators, the parties, their attorneys and any other person involved, cannot be heard as witnesses in any subsequent Court action. In addition, they are not obliged to testify in a Court what occurred during the mediation process, except for cases of public concern. The presence of legal representatives, whose main responsibility is to protect the rights of the two parties, is mandatory during the mediation process.

The agreement accruing out of a mediation process, “agreement of settlement of the dispute”, shall be recorded in Minutes drafted by the Mediator. These Minutes can be submitted to the Secretariat of the Court of First Instance of the local jurisdiction, where the mediation took place. Following this action the settlement agreement becomes an enforceable title and is secured even in case of only one of the parties wishing it to become one.

The Mediator is a lawyer accredited as Mediator by the Ministry of Justice, who is asked to conduct mediation in an effective and impartial way.

Why mediate

Mediation is an effective mean of dispute resolution for any dispute that does not require a judicial or third party determination. It is a process for resolving disputes by which an independent Mediator assists the parties in reaching a mutually satisfactory settlement, as an extension of the parties own negotiations. It provides a forum and an atmosphere, in which parties gain understanding, become understood, and work together to explore further options for settling their disputes. By settling disputes in mediation, parties determine for themselves what is important and, ultimately, the outcome of the situation. The mediation process is entirely voluntary and non-binding. The Mediator has no power to render a decision or to force the parties to accept a settlement. Rather, the Mediator's role is to assist the parties in their negotiations by identifying obstacles to settlement and developing strategies for overcoming them. The benefits of mediation may vary depending upon the nature of the dispute and the model of mediation applied:

a. Recognition in hearing and being heard. Parties gain the understanding of the other parties’ point of view, and an enhanced opportunity to be heard and understood themselves.

b. Empowerment. Parties are empowered to decide for themselves, whether and how they would like to settle a situation. This self-determination aspect of mediation often corresponds to higher aspirations of how individuals and businesses want to conduct their lives and do business in general.

c. Speed.Parties avoid the delay of a third party or judicially decided outcome.

d. Economy. Parties save an enormous amount of time, energy, and expense associated with conflict and litigation.

e. Confidentiality. Mediation can be kept confidential by agreement.

f. Quality of settlement. Various studies and practice has indicated that parties entering into voluntary agreements through mediation are more likely to fulfill commitments made in such agreements than they are with judicially imposed resolutions.

g. Reality check opportunities. Mediation can afford the opportunity to communicate important "reality check" information that may be easier for a client to accept from a neutral.

h. Avoid bad outcomes. Through mediation, all parties avoid the "win-lose" and "lose-lose" outcomes associated with litigation. Many parties who "win" in protracted litigation often find the overall time, energy, and monetary commitment associated with litigation comes at an enormous cost and loss. Those who lose in litigation surely feel even worse about such an outcome. Mediation can spare parties from all of this and enable them to move forward from disputes efficiently and effectively.

Mediation works not only because it focuses on the parties own interests and agendas, but also because it provides the opportunity for parties to move beyond disputes efficiently and chart their own future. Mediation provides the opportunity for all parties to meet at the bargaining table for the express purpose of discussing settlement. All decision-makers necessary to resolve a problem are normally present. These decision-makers, who otherwise may be unavailable or distracted by other business matters, are able to focus their entire attention on reaching a settlement. Finally, mediation assists the parties in developing options for settlement. The more options that are developed, the greater the chances of success. Practice shows that the Mediator can assist the parties to clarify their real objective and to consider alternatives that might be overlooked by attorneys engaged in a trial.

What happens in mediation

The mediation process is entirely voluntary and non-binding. The mediation session is private and confidential. It is in a private meeting room and no public record is made of the proceedings. If no settlement is reached any statements during the proceedings are inadmissible as evidence in any subsequent litigation.

The mediation begins with a joint meeting of the parties and their attorneys. The Mediator first explains the format and discusses the confidential and non-binding nature of the proceedings. The Mediator will then ask the attorneys for each of the parties to make a presentation of their case, identifying the issues in dispute. Following the joint meeting, the Mediator will usually separate the parties and begin meeting with them in a series of private and confidential meetings. Here the Mediator works with each of the parties to analyze their case and develop options for settlement.

Mediation is different from arbitration in that the mediator does not render a decision. Instead, mediation allows the parties to make their own decisions and fashion their own settlement. The Mediator generally doesn't make recommendations but rather, allows the parties to make their own decisions based on a realistic analysis of their case.