By Steven G. Mehta

In the not too distant past, whenever anyone mentioned dispute resolution in Russia, it would have included a life sentence in Siberia.  But Russia has come a long way from the communist days both in its economy and in its ability to resolve conflicts.  Starting January, 2011, mediation will be available as a dispute resolution tool in Russia.  A new mediation law was signed into law in late July of this year.

According to the Institute for Conflict Management, “Under the Mediation Law, entities involved in a private legal relationship may agree that a likely (or de facto) dispute will best be resolved through a mediator, i.e., an independent individual acting as an intermediary. A mediation agreement must be executed in writing (e.g., as a mediation clause) and may apply to a dispute arising out of civil, labor or domestic relations. However, to qualify for mediation, any such dispute must not affect the rights and interests of any third parties that are not involved in the mediation process or collective labor disputes.”

Although the law is a great start, according to the Moscow Times, the law has significant imperfections that may prevent it from being used immediately until amendments are created.  Nevertheless, it is a true testament to the power of the mediation process that Russia has enacted such legislation and is actively seeking to apply mediation to its civil disputes.  Mediation is no longer the alternative, it is the maintstream.