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The European Parliament and the Council have approved a Directive on mediation covering civil, commercial and family matters.
In addition to encouraging the use of mediation in cross-border disputes the Directive provides, for the first time, a framework around which parties can proceed with mediation safe in the knowledge that, should the mediation fail, matters that were raised will be kept confidential by mediators and that they will not lose the opportunity to take their dispute to court by the expiration of limitation periods.
Bridget Prentice, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice said: The Government believes that courts should be the last resort for people involved in civil or family disputes and has supported this proposal as a means of encouraging the use of mediation in cross-border disputes throughout the European Union. The UK gave priority to this initiative in the early stages of its negotiation during our Presidency of the EU in 2005 and I welcome its agreement."
The European Commission issued its proposal for a Directive in October 2004. The European Parliament gave its first opinion in March 2007 and the Council of European Justice Ministers reached a final agreement on the text in November 2007. Following agreement of the Council's text by the European Parliament in April 2008 the Directive has now been adopted.
Member States will have until June 2011 to comply with its provisions.