Nederlands-Vlaams tijdschrift voor mediation en conflictmanagement

Article

Enforceability of mediation clauses in Belgium and the Netherlands

Trefwoorden Enforceability, Mediation clauses, contracts
Auteurs Ellen van Beukering-Rosmuller en Patrick Van Leynseele
Auteursinformatie

317380 Ellen van Beukering-Rosmuller
Ellen J.M. van Beukering-Rosmuller is Universitair Docent Burgerlijk Procesrecht, Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid.

317383 Patrick Van Leynseele
Patrick H. Van Leynseele is lid van de balies van Brussel en New York en partner in het Brussels advocatenkantoor DALDEWOLF, een referentie inzake ADR. Met als achtergrond het ondernemingsrecht werkt hij als litigator en arbiter in internationale zaken. Hij schreef verschillende artikels inzake mediation en Med-Arb in vooraanstaande juridische tijdschriften.
  • Samenvatting

      In this article authors discuss (possible) legal means and methods aimed at making mediation clauses effective and/or enforceable. In particular Belgian and Dutch law are examined. In part attention is also paid to English, French and Italian law. Against the background of recent EU-legislation the validity of mediation clauses is discussed as well, with a focus on consumer related disputes. By reviewing US case law with regard to the duty to participate in good faith in the mediation process, the authors also outline the limits of this concept for the effectiveness of mediation clauses. The central theme of the enforceability of mediation clauses has been looked at both from a procedural as from a financial angle. Substantial differences can be noted between the Belgian and the Dutch approach towards what courts should do when dealing with a dispute in which parties have previously agreed to mediation. Belgian law provides in art. 1725 § 2 Judicial Code that the court, if so requested by the defendant, is in principle obliged to suspend the examination of the case until the mediation has taken place. According to current case law, the situation in the Netherlands is that mediation clauses are in principle not enforceable (Supreme Court 2006). Following the most recent legislative proposal regarding mediation (July 2016) the court should examine whether mediation can still have an added value in case one party refuses to take part in a mediation as provided for in a clause invoked by the other party, prior to (possibly) proposing mediation. Based on the plans repeatedly announced by the Belgian Minister of Justice, it is likely that there will soon be an amendment to the mediation provisions in the Judicial Code that will allow courts to ‘force’ mediation upon the parties, even in the absence of a mediation clause. If this becomes the rule, judges would be well advised to exercise this power with due care. In the authors’ opinion the Dutch approach (as suggested in the most recent legislative proposal) in connection with mediation clauses, consisting in having the court examine whether mediation may (still) have an added value for the parties, could serve as a good guideline for the Belgian judges to use.

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