Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Question on mediation services

The EU's Justice Commissioner has defended an EU law on mediation services, despite complaints by MEPs that it is failing to achieve its goals.

Viviane Reding faced a question by the Legal Affairs Committee on 11 December 2012 on the use of mediation as an alternative to going to court in civil and commercial cases.

Figures show that in some countries less than 0.1% of civil and commercial court cases are resolved through the use of mediation services.

That is despite an EU directive from 2008 that was designed to improve access to such services and to promote the "amicable settlement of disputes".

Legal experts say that mediation can reduce the costs and time involved in litigation.

Mrs Reding said that for mediation to become a real alternative it had to become known and become a "cultural choice".

"We need time," she insisted, arguing that over time more people were likely to use alternatives to court.

But Romanian Liberal MEP Cristian Busoi said there was a lack of information about the services available.

"People don't know about mediation, they don't know about the costs," he claimed.

Some MEPs urged EU countries to be required to set a minimum percentage of cases to be mediated in each country, especially in cross-border disputes.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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