Italy was one of the first EU member states to implement the EU Mediation Directive. The Mediation Law (Legislative Decree 28/2010) provides that a large range of disputes cannot be brought before a civil court unless the plaintiff has attempted mediation beforehand (or as a condition of continuing legal proceedings, if they have already been started). The declared aim was to reduce the enormous backlog of cases before the courts, and mandatory mediation took effect in March 2011, a year after the enactment of the law. One year later, the mediation requirement has been extended, making it necessary to provide enough mediation bodies to manage thousands of mediations, as well as a sufficient number of mediators to conduct them. Mediation institutions have since blossomed.
But it had some rough beginnings. At the end of 2008, when the directive was issued, mediation in Italy was performed by a handful of chambers of commerce and, in major cities, by a few institutions established by professional bodies (e.g., local bar associations) or private entities, because few institutions taught mediation. Reactions to mandatory mediation were varied, prompting heated debates and even open opposition from lawyers.
"It is still young," said UWWM Mediator Richard Lord. "Ambivalent judges, skeptical lawyers, and somewhat enthusiastic businesses? Sounds like Florida and other states a few short decades ago. The Italian legal and business communities collective experience with mediation shows what should be the first steps toward the further development and increased acceptance of an important alternative dispute resolution tool for an important EU member and trading partner for Florida. Businesses and individuals with ties between Italy and Florida will all benefit from an increased familiarity with both the practice of and principles of mediation. Cultural, economic and educational ties can all benefit from an expansion of ADR."
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