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If you are faced with the need to settle a commercial dispute with an Italian counterparty, you may find this blog post helpful.

Mediation as a way to resolve a conflict without lengthy judicial red tape is increasingly discussed in Italy. Nowadays, mediation in Italy is used to resolve civil and commercial disputes but not conflicts related to actions or lack thereof by the state in the exercise of official powers. Parties will most probably not opt for mediation if they want to obtain a so-called precedent on a certain issue. 

Legal landscape

Dispute resolution through mediation in Europe is perceived as a serious means of out-of-court dispute resolution and a way to improve access to equity.

The European Union has issued a number of directives regulating the activities of mediators. The Model Mediation Law provides an interesting overview of the legal effect and binding nature of an agreement reached during mediation in countries where the institution is already in use.

 An important step for mediation in Italy was the adoption and implementation of the EU Directives into its legislation. The Directives have already proven their effectiveness in regulating mediation in Europe.

Resolve the conflict without trial

Many experts positively assess mediation as a tool that will relieve the courts and help to successfully overcome differences and settle disputes of various etiologies. Criticism of mediation is often based on the impossibility of its application to all types of disputes, as well as on its informal nature.

This is despite the clear advantage in terms of financial and time costs. Mediation also allows the parties to maintain a relationship, while litigation tends to destroy such a relationship. There is also an opportunity for one of the parties (or both) to change their point of view on a controversial issue, which will result in an agreement. At the same time, the informal procedure greatly facilitates its implementation.

A characteristic feature of mediation in Italy and any other country is that it has clear principles. The first three of these principles are the free will of all parties, complete confidentiality and flexibility of the process.

A mediator plays a decisive role in this process helping contractors to settle their dispute and achieve reconciliation, maintaining good relations in the future.

Requirements to mediators

Mediators in Italy must have certain skills and competencies such as negotiation skills, crisis management, empathy and many others.

 Mandatory qualities and skills of mediators:

  • Effective interpersonal communication, active listening;
  • Communication skills (especially empathy);
  • Emotional balance;
  • Planning skill;
  • Resilience to conflicts;
  • Ability to promote self-esteem;
  • Literacy, knowledge of languages;
  • Cultural awareness (both in the home country and in the host country: culture, laws, traditions, history).

Stages of the process

Crucially, throughout the mediation process in Italy, each party should only be involved with a lawyer.

The mediation procedure in Italy is not lengthy. As a rule, it covers some stages, which are characterized by a difference in intermediate goals, differ in the form and methods used by the mediator. So, we can talk about the following stages of mediation:

  1. Preliminary stage (the mediator gets acquainted with the essence of the case, holds preliminary meetings with the lawyers of the parties, prepares for the further process);
  2. Introductory meeting (the parties have the opportunity to present their position on the issue, make demands and ask questions, the mediator also has the opportunity to receive clarifying answers to his questions);
  3. Closed hearings ( is aimed at discussing the problem openly and honestly, while the mediator is bound by confidentiality obligations, which will not prevent him from using the information received for the purpose of searching optimal solution);
  4. Discussions (final approval of agreements, signing the necessary documents, etc.);
  5. Additional and subsequent contacts (the parties conclude a separate agreement with the expert mediator on seeking consent, and record the agreements already reached). 

Final word

One of the main advantages of mediation is its flexibility, precisely because the above classification of the stages of mediation is not mandatory, but rather can only serve as an example of negotiations with the participation of a mediator. The parties, in turn, are free to independently determine the order and form of the applicable procedures, which makes it easy to adapt mediation to specific situations.

Albeit slowly, mediation is finally becoming one of the demanded ways to resolve commercial disputes in Italy as an EU Member State. IQ Decision UK specialists will provide advice on ADR in Italy and any other European country in case you need assistance in a conflict situation.