As we last reported, the German Mediation Code, after going back and forth between the Bunderstag’s two chambers for the last 18 months, was sent to mediation itself. But finally, the code was signed into law by the President of the Federal Republic on July 21 and four days later, it was published in the Federal Gazette and came into law on July 26.
According to JAMS International panelist Judge Sabine Konig, in an interview with CDR News, “The German constitution includes a mechanism to resolve disputes between the two parliamentary chambers, the Vermittlungsausschuss, translated as the Mediation Committee. So our new mediation law is itself the result of a successful mediation; what a great start!”
The Mediation Act required the Mediation Committee of the upper and the lower chambers (Bundesrat and Bundestag) to find an amicable solution within the German parliament.
Considered the two biggest hurdles between the sides was the use of court-integrated mediation with judges acting as mediators and the concept of a conciliation judge, which were approved and integrated into the Act.
Other regulations in the Mediation Act include:
- Financial incentives to encourage mediation, which is a first in German law. Such incentives may be created by individual states and will likely differ from state to state. The states can reduce or even waive court fees, if matters are settled through mediation or other means of ADR;
- Introduction of the title of a “certified mediator,” who has to complete at least 120 hours of intensive training. Prior to the Mediation Act, German mediators did not have to meet any specific educational standards required by law;
- Suspension of the statutes of limitation during mediation proceedings;
- Enforceability of settlement agreements reached through mediation.
It’s a big day for the German mediation community and we look forward to see how the act is utilized.