Bernardo M. Cremades*
Mediation is a facilitative process whereby the parties engage the assistance of an impartial third party (the mediator) to assist them to reach an amicable settlement of a dispute. The mediator does not have the authority to impose a binding decision on the parties, but uses certain procedures, techniques and skills to help the parties reach an agreement. The term conciliation also describes this process, and so is synonymous with mediation. Mediation is the preferred modern term in common law jurisdictions; the term conciliation is older and probably more culturally universal (1). The resolution of disputes by mediation or conciliation is often contrasted with adjudicatory techniques such as litigation or arbitration. Mediation or conciliation attempt to reconcile the interests of parties, while adjudicatory techniques determine or vindicate the respective rights of the parties.
There are strong and ancient traditions of dispute resolution by mediation in many regions of the world, particularly in Asia. Where the predominant form of dispute resolution is adjudicative, as in common law jurisdictions, the value of mediation in certain types of disputes, such as labour and family disputes, is long established. However, it is in respect of civil and commercial disputes in common law jurisdictions that mediation has achieved its most spectacular growth in recent years. Beginning from the United States, dissatisfaction with the aggression and costs of the adversary system of civil litigation encouraged interest and experimentation with a range of techniques of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). ADR is a general term for dispute resolution by means other than litigation, including adjudicative, facultative, evaluative and mixed processes, although mediation has been at the forefront of the modern success of ADR. The enthusiasm for ADR quickly spread from the United States to other common law jurisdictions, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and England, that were experiencing similar problems with their civil justice systems. The result has been substantial scholarly study and writing on mediation, the establishment of specialist training courses for mediators and practitioners as well as dispute resolution organisations devoted to mediation services, provision for court-annexed mediation in rules of civil procedure, and the promulgation of codes of conduct for mediators.
The form of mediation and the authority of the mediator are matters for agreement between the parties, so considerable variation is possible. This flexibility and the ability to adapt mediation to the needs of different types of parties and disputes is a hallmark of mediation. It is, however, essential that the mediator is impartial. In order to facilitate the freedom of communication necessary for successful mediation, the parties usually agree that the mediation will be private and confidential, and that admissions or settlement proposals made during the mediation will not be relied upon in any subsequent litigation or arbitration if the mediation proves unsuccessful. Sometimes the mediator will be authorised (or even required) by the parties to express a view on the legal merits during or at the end of the mediation, while in other cases the mediator will be confined to a neutral and strictly facilitative role in respect of the parties’ negotiations.
The established conciliation practices in many different regions of the world has meant that international dispute resolution organisations have long offered conciliation services. There is, for example, provision for conciliation in disputes between states and foreign investors in the Washington Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes Between States and Nationals of Other States (1965). The International Chamber of Commerce in Paris has always offered conciliation services, although to date these have been little used. The resurgence of mediation in the common law world has encouraged organisations engaged in dispute resolution to update and promote their conciliation or mediation rules. The ICC updated its Optional Conciliation Rules in 1988, and then in July 2001 replaced them with new ADR Rules, which provide for mediation in the absence of any other choice of ADR method by the parties. Similarly, the London Court of International Arbitration launched a new mediation procedure in 1999. It is now commonplace for institutions to offer both mediation and arbitration services, and often for both types of dispute resolution procedures to be utilised either sequentially (mediation followed by arbitration) or concurrently. This practice is encouraged by the increasing use of multi-tiered arbitration clauses in commercial contracts. These clauses typically require some form of good faith attempt to resolve a dispute, through negotiation or mediation, prior to a resort to binding arbitration.
Global mediation is an ongoing project of the United Nations Commission on the United Nations on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), although UNCITRAL prefers to use the term conciliation. UNCITRAL’s role in global mediation dates from the 1980 UNICITRAL Conciliation Rules, which have been widely used and have served as a model for the conciliation rules of many institutions. These rules were intended to promote a liberal, voluntary and informal concept of conciliation, and to guarantee the parties’ freedom of action at all stages of the process (2). UNCITRAL is now working on a Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation. A Model Law is a proposed legislative text, which States can adopt (with modifications if necessary) into their national law, thereby harmonising national laws and international practice. The objectives of this proposed Model Law include encouraging the use of conciliation, providing greater predictability and certainty in its use, and fostering economy and efficiency in international trade. The previous experience of UNCITRAL model laws, particularly the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, has been very positive, so that a successful promulgation of a Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation will no doubt consolidate the success of mediation at a global level.
In conclusion, mediation has broad and deep roots in the conciliation practices of many countries. The cross-cultural appeal of mediation, the desire to harmonize dispute resolution procedures for the benefit of international trade, and the demand for quicker and more simple dispute resolution, particularly in common law jurisdictions, mean mediation enjoys a prominent place in modern dispute resolution. The current enthusiasm for mediation, and the proliferation of methods and institutions, might pass in due course, but mediation is well established and has a bright future.
(1) For the definition of mediation and conciliation see Henry Brown and Arthur Marriott ADR Principles and Practice (2nd ed, London 1999, chapter 7).
(2) See Gerold Hermann Commentary on the UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules VI Yearbook Commercial Arbitration (1981)170-109.
ברנרדו מ. קרמדס – גישור גלובלי (תקציר מתורגם)
במסחר הבינלאומי עוברים הליכי הגישור והפישור תהליך של גלובליזציה. השימוש הגובר בהם הביא לכך שמוסדות בינלאומיים ליישוב סכסוכים מציעים בין שירותיהם אף שירותי גישור ופישור. לדוגמה, לשכת המסחר הבינלאומית שהחליפה בחודש יולי 2001 את כללי הפישור שלה משנת 1988 בכללי ADR חדשים. הליכים אלה אף מוסדרים באמנות בינלאומיות, למשל אמנת וושינגטון בדבר יישוב סכסוכים בענייני השקעות בין מדינות ובין אזרחיהן של מדינות אחרות, 1965, שאימצה הוראה בדבר יישוב סכסוכים בין מדינות לבין משקיעים זרים בדרך של פישור. הגלובליזציה של הגישור היא פרוייקט בעל חשיבות בוועדת האו"ם למשפט מסחרי בינלאומי UNCITRAL, שאימצה כללי פישור עוד בשנת 1980, ושעוסקת בימים אלה בהכנת טיוטת חוק לדוגמא בנושא פישור מסחרי בינלאומי. השימוש בגישור בתרבויות שונות, הרצון בהרמוניזציה של הדרכים לפתרון סכסוכים כדי להיטיב עם הסחר הבינלאומי, והדרישה לקיומם של הליכים פשוטים ומהירים ליישוב סכסוכים, מעמידים את הגישור במקום בולט ומועידים לו עתיד מזהיר.
*B. Cremades y Asociados, Madrid. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org