State Duma passes bill on mediation procedures
MOSCOW, June 13 (RAPSI) – The State Duma has adopted in the first reading a bill prepared by the Russian Supreme Court which is supposed to improve mediation procedures.
Authors of the bill propose to introduce additional provisions related to laws regulating the procedure of reaching a mediation settlement. The bill also changes the Family Code of Russia in order to provide a way of mediating common family disputes through the procedure. Among such disputes are problems with division of common property of spouses after divorce, settling alimony matters and choosing a place of residence for children in these cases.
The bill stipulates new requirements for mediators. These people must be over 25 years old, have no previous convictions, have a higher education and undergo a special training in mediation. Currently, mediation may be practiced by non-professionals as well.
Also, 70% of court fees would be returned to a plaintiff if the settlement is reached or if the lawsuit is recalled.
According to the bill, mediation procedure should be excluded from the overall duration of case review by the court. It is noted that current law on mediation leads to clash between terms set for review of civil cases and postponing of said cases because of mediation procedure. Overall, the bill grants more time to settle disputes through mediation without affecting other legal procedures.
The government and the State Duma committee while approving of the bill, noted that these proposals have flaws.
In particular, mediation should not be applied to disputes involving public interests because those are based on coercion of one party by another. It is also noted that judicial system already has a position of mediator that fulfills the same functions both before court proceedings and after.
The bill reads that the court mediator is a paid office and the government noted that any proposals to introduce such positions should be accompanied by provisions specifying source of income for these expenses.
Similarly, the government criticized ideas regarding assignment of court staff as mediators because the Law on court system states that court staff maintains functionality of a court but can’t be involved in dispute resolution. Also, the proposal granting judges’ right to request information on mediation procedure contradicts current legislation because mediation procedure may be put on hold.