A holiday in Italy is always a wonderful experience, especially when it includes the beautiful city of Florence. My recent Italian holiday was made even more pleasurable by the opportunity to visit with the Chiara Tondini and Nadia Sportolaro, the Managing Team of The Florence International Mediation Chamber (FIMC).
A branch of the Florence Chamber of Commerce, FIMC was established in 2015 with the goal of offering an international mediation service to Italian companies involved in international commercial relationships and to foreign companies who very wisely choose to resolve their disputes in Florence.
FIMC has a lot to offer its commercial clients. It has a growing panel of experienced mediators from around the world (including Australia) accredited to rigorous international standards and a mediation room with a marvellous view over the city – a drawcard in itself!
FIMC is continuing to build its profile and will host the Florence session of the Global Pound Conference series, an international program involving over 36 events in more than 26 countries and which has been featured in several of these blog posts.
FIMC is active internationally – for example, it is working with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to secure the right to become the Italian host for its arbitrations and mediations. It is also an official observer of the UNCITRAL Working Group II which is investigating developing an enforceability vehicle for international mediated settlement agreements along the lines of the New York Convention which applies in the arbitration environment.
The Chamber of Commerce of Florence (CCF) of which FIMC is a branch, was founded in 1770 – via a statute enacted by Grand-Duke Pietro Leopoldo of Tuscany. Since 1998 it has been handling domestic mediation services and 6,000 cases later it has an enviable track record.
The CCF domestic mediation service operates under Legislative Decree no. 28/2010, the single legislative instrument controlling both mandatory and voluntary mediation in Italy. It ensures that parties cannot litigate most (but not all) matters without a trial of mediation.
With typical Italian creativity, the constitutional challenge to 28/2010, spearheaded by the legal profession (which succeeded on a technicality) has been overcome by an amendment which has proved wise and durable – parties are still required to attend the commencement of a mediation prior to issuing legal proceedings, however they are given the opportunity to opt out of the process before the formal mediation commences. Once the parties agree to commence a mediation and settle the dispute, the operation of the Legislative Decree creates an immediately enforceable agreement – this provision extends to both mandatory and voluntary mediation.
The operation of this regime has been surprising successful – an interesting lesson for us in Australia. The chart below, provided by FIMC, provides insight into the success of the process.
|TOTAL||MANDATORY MEDIATIONS||VOLUNTARY MEDIATIONS|
|Procedures handled (and closed) from 1st January 2014 to 30th September 2016||1.154(100%)||742 (100%)||403 (100%)|
|% of cases where invited party accepted invitation to the first meeting||625 (54,16%)||505 (69,75%)||160 (39,70%)|
|%of cases in which parties accepted to start the mediation after the first meeting (opt-out mechanism) (based on # of cases in which invited party accepted invitation to the first meeting)||314 (50,24%)||203(40,20%)||108 (67,50%)|
|Settlement rate in % (based on # of cases in which parties accepted to start the mediation after the first meeting (opt-out mechanism)||190 (60,51%)||120 (59,11%)||66 (61,11%)|
|Number of cases in % settled after having filed the mediation request but before that the mediation meeting took place(based on # of total cases filed)||61(5,29%)||25 (3,37%)||17 (4,22%)|
As Chiara and Nadia explain, requiring all parties to come to the mediation table, even in a preliminary way, provides the opportunity for parties, who might otherwise not be willing to initiate a mediation, to consider what mediation has to offer and choose to stay. The process is also efficient, low cost and not punitive for those parties who do opt out – removing the argument lawyers often use here about the unnecessary expense imposed by a mandatory regime.
As the chart demonstrates, more than 50% of parties who attend the introductory session choose to stay and of those matters, more than 60% settle.
Yet another reason to visit Florence!