What is meditation?

Mediation is confidential negotiations of the conflicting parties with the participation of a neutral and impartial mediator aimed at resolving a conflict by developing a mutually acceptable agreement.

What are the advantages of mediation?

* confidential nature of the procedure;

* time-saving;

* court costs saving;

* procedural flexibility (choice of mediator, time and place of the procedure);

* reducing emotional stress through voluntary development of dispute resolution options.

In 2013 Belarus adopted the law on mediation, which allowed the use of mediation to resolve economic, labor and family disputes. Since the legislative act came into force, mediation has been used in various fields, confirming its effectiveness in resolving family disputes, where about 80-85% of cases end with the conclusion of a mediation agreement.

At the same time, mediation in Belarus is applied to a limited range of legal relations and is not applicable for criminal and administrative cases, while in number of countries such means of dispute resolution have been successfully employed in those areas. Moreover, mediation is not an obligatory pre-trial method of dispute resolution in Belarus, and the court at its discretion may recommend parties to use mediation for conflict resolution.

However, in most European countries, courts have an obligation to explain to parties their rights to resort to mediation, and in some cases disputing parties are obliged to try to resolve a conflict through mediation before court considers the merits of a case. Such regulation ensures the efficiency of dispute resolution, as well as decongesting the court system and reducing the number of pending cases.

From October 31 to November 3, 2018, the delegation of Belarus took part in a mediation study visit to the Kingdom of the Netherlands . The visit was organized with an aim to get Belarusian legal experts acquainted with the experience and the best practices in the field of mediation and the further use of this knowledge in the work on imporving the legislation of Belarus in terms of legal empowerment of using this institution in dispute resolution. The delegation consitituted of the representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the General Prosecutor's Office, the Supreme Court, the National Center for Legislation and Legal Studies, the Ministry of Education, Regional Bar Associations, as well as the Belarusian Republican Union of Lawyers and the Center “Mediation and Law”.

During the visit the participants visited governmental, non-governmental, commercial and non-profit institutions of the Netherlands and met with practicing mediators, representatives of public organizations, the Dutch Ministries of Security and Justice, and of Foreign Affairs.

During the first two days of the trip, the participants discussed the organization of the alternative dispute resolution process in the Netherlands, studied the use of mediation in marriage, family, labor and criminal cases, plunged into the issues of restorative justice and mediation for minors.

The Ministry of Security and Justice provided participants with statistics on 3,000 registered mediators in the country, as well as the latest trends in the development of mediation in the Netherlands, in particular the use of online mediation, which is especially important in cross-border disputes, as well as the use of mediation in criminal cases, where 70% of all procedures is completed by the conclusion of an agreement between the parties.

The knowledge and experience gained will be used by participants in the further development, organization and use of mediation in Belarus, the relevance and interest to which is confirmed both by the increase in the number of procedures carried out and by the increase in the number of mediators listed in the official state register (as at October 2018, there are 580 mediators in Belarus, the number of which increased by 37% compared to 2017, when 365 mediators were registered).

The experience gained will also be used in the development of the draft Law "On amendments to some Codes of the Republic of Belarus on the issues of mediation" in order to ensure complete control, eliminating gaps and conflicts in matters related to the mediation.

The visit was organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Belarus with the assistance of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

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