The European Commission is referring Cyprus and the Netherlands to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to notify national measures to implement EU rules easing access to justice in cross-border legal disputes.
The Mediation Directive applies when two parties involved in a cross-border dispute voluntarily agree to settle their dispute using an impartial mediator. The deadline for transposing the Directive into national law was 21 May 2011.
“We take action to ease access to justice in the European Union,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “Mediation is an important alternative to going to court in cross-border disputes and can help parties find an amicable settlement. It saves time, money and spares parties involved in already emotional family cases the additional trauma of going to court.”
Settling disputes and disagreements through courts is often costly and time-consuming. Cross-border cases are particularly complex due to different national laws and practical matters like costs or language.
Under the rules of the Directive, Member States have to ensure that mediated agreements can be enforced. According to an EU-funded study, the time wasted by not using mediation is estimated to be on average between 331 and 446 extra days in the EU, with extra legal costs ranging from €12,471 to €13,738 per case.
The Commission proposes a daily fine of €6.758,4 for Cyprus, and €70.553,6 for the Netherlands, which would be paid as from the date of the Court’s affirmative ruling until the Member States concerned notify the Commission that they have fully implemented the rules into national law.