Mediation has been introduced into the Greek legal order as a tool for resolution of civil and commercial matters following Directive 2008/52/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters, concerning mediation in cross-border disputes. However, the number of mediations carried out in Greece since then has been very low, especially compared to the number of litigations that followed the court path and could have been mediated.
In order to implement the said Directive, the legislature enacted Law 3898/2010, which served further as a means to introduce mediation as a dispute resolution tool for both domestic and cross-border civil and commercial matters. The provisions of Law 3898/2010 where soon to be complemented by a series of other provisions, concerning among other issues: the establishment of mediator training and certification standards and procedures; a national code of conduct for mediators; judicial mediation; the possibility to file a motion for mediation during a pending legal action, or a formal notice of one, and the possibility of the judge to suggest mediation; and the obligation of lawyers to name mediation as an option for their clients.
Mandatory Mediation, as introduced by Law 4512/2018, came then into effect last January 2018 to establish mandatory attendance of the parties at a first joint session to be informed about mediation and to explore the possibility of mediating their dispute: no obligation to participate further in the procedure was required.
In November 2019, the Greek Ministry of Justice introduced the new, revised Mediation Law 4640/2019, coming into effect gradually from 15 January 2020, which broadens the application of mandatory mediation to most civil and commercial disputes before Greek Courts. Law 4640/2019 provides that civil and commercial disputes of a national or cross-border nature, existing or future, may be subject to mediation, provided that the parties have the power to dispose of the subject matter pursuant to the provisions of substantive law.
Prior to appealing to the Court, Law 4640/2019 introduces an obligation for the lawyer to inform her/his client in writing on the option of resolving the dispute, or part of it, through mediation before seeking recourse to the courts, as well as about the obligation to attend a mandatory first joint session to be informed about the possibility of mediating her/his dispute. This document must be signed by both the lawyer and the party and is submitted together with the civil action in order to for the latter be admissible.
Civil and commercial disputes under the standard civil procedure falling under the competence of the Single and Multi-Member Courts of First Instance and certain family disputes will have to go through a mandatory first joint mediation session. This session shall take place no later than twenty (20) days after the mediator has received the request of a party seeking to recourse to mediation. If any of the parties resides abroad, the said deadline shall be extended up to thirty (30) days, following the day on which the request is sent to the mediator. The mandatory initial mediation session shall be confidential, and records shall not be kept.
After the completion of the initial joint session, a report is drawn up by the mediator, signed by the mediator and all the participants, and if a lawsuit is filed or if it has already been filed, this report is submitted together with the action to the court. If not, the lawsuit is rendered inadmissible. This record shall indicate the manner in which the mandatory initial meeting was notified to the parties and whether they attended the meeting. The Law provides for certain monetary penalties, of an amount not less than 100 euros and no more than 500 euros, in case one of the parties does not appear in the first joint mediation session.
The Law came into force on 30 November 2019, however, states that the provisions on a first joint session will apply as from 15 January 2020 for family disputes and as from 15 March 2020 for lawsuits under the competence of the Single and Multi-Member Court of First Instance.