Senior officials from 11 countries gather in Belarus to discuss legal reforms and best practices
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is promoting best legal practices in eastern Europe and Central Asia by organising a specialist event on commercial mediation in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.
The two-day event will be attended by senior civil servants from the ministries of justice and the courts of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine. They will discuss ways of settling commercial disputes through commercial mediation, which is widely used in advanced economies.
The introduction of commercial mediation – a dynamic, structured and interactive process where a neutral third party helps disputing parties to resolve problems through negotiation techniques – has the potential to significantly reduce the burden on courts, improve clearance rates and improve efficiency in the administration of justice. It may also bring a range of long-term benefits for legal systems by making national courts more effective and cost-efficient through the reduction of funds earmarked for litigation contingencies. Businesses are also likely to benefit from the quicker and cheaper practice of dispute resolution that commercial mediation offers.
During the forum delegates will discuss practical steps that are important for mediation to become an effective and attractive alternative to traditional litigation. Participants and speakers will share their experiences of developing mediation in their own legal systems, share new ideas on improving it and address remaining challenges including capacity-building of key players such as mediators, court administrators and judges.
EBRD General Counsel Marie-Anne Birken said: “The rule of law is of primary importance for our countries of operations. It is crucial for the development of a proper judiciary and for shaping a better investment climate. In this respect the introduction of commercial mediation is another step in the right direction. The Bank’s Legal Transition Team is working hard with various stakeholders in the region to promote this important legal reform.”
The forum will be chaired by Bill Marsh, an international commercial mediator, who commented: “Mediation is an increasingly important area of legal reform and this forum provides an invaluable opportunity to exchange lessons and plan for future developments.”
By organising the conference the EBRD is providing a unique platform for discussing issues related to the wide-scale introduction of mediation in eastern Europe and Central Asia. The Bank plans to share success stories with participants, assess regional and national needs for technical assistance in the implementation of commercial mediation across the region and to suggest next steps aimed at promoting this important legal technique.