• 2010-08-11
  • By Akvile Buzinskaite, Associate Lawyer

ECOVIS Miškinis, Kvainauskas ir partneriai advokatų kontora

On May 20, 2005, the Judicial Council of Lithuania decided to launch the pilot mediation project in Vilnius City 2 District Court, passing a decision concerning the Pilot Court Mediation Project. It was the beginning of the court mediation procedure in Lithuania’s court system. Today this project is expanded into other courts.

Court mediation is a dispute settlement procedure with the purpose of helping parties resolve their dispute peacefully through one or more mediators. Court mediation is done by mediators - trained judges, judicial assistants or other qualified persons who are listed on the court mediators list, approved by the Judicial Council Working Group. The mediator must be impartial and neutral. Court mediation takes place in the courtroom. Court mediation is free of charge. Mediators are skilled in conflict resolution techniques and take a proactive role in the settlement process by urging the parties to move away from their initial, intractable bargaining positions and toward accommodation.

The goal of court mediation is to afford the parties an opportunity to settle the case at the initial stages of litigation. The aims are to create conditions for the parties to reach a peaceful settlement in civil cases more effectively; to encourage the development of conciliatory justice in Lithuania; to educate society; to raise effectiveness and speed of resolution of civil cases in court. Resolution of the case at the early stages helps to save both parties time and money and prevents the court from an excessive workload.

Mediation may be transferred only to the dispute, which the law allows the parties to conclude a peace treaty. Mediation may also relate to part of the requirements of the case. A civil case is referred to court mediation by the ruling of the judge, only at the request or agreement of the parties. 
Court mediation must ensure the effectiveness of the mediation process, also efficiency, fairness and equality among parties. The parties must cooperate in the process. The mediator can also use caucuses when talking with parties separately.

Several mediation sessions may be organized. The total duration of the court mediation sessions are up to 4 hours. The mediator can extend the process if parties request this and if it decides that it can allow reaching an amicable agreement and the extension of the duration of mediation will not delay the proceedings.  In prolonging the duration of mediation, the mediator determines the precise mediation duration time and informs the parties.
Both parties can withdraw from court mediation, and they have no obligation to present reasons for this. Successful court mediation is completed by a peace agreement. This agreement is ratified by the ruling of the judge hearing the case, who has res judicata power.

Court mediation is a confidential process. It helps save the parties both time and money, and eliminates the uncertainties and risks of a trial.