Cour de Cassation, (Chambre Mixte), France.

Ruling No. 217, 14.02.2003

France recognises the validity of a contract clause to mediate

Decision

Where there is a properly drafted clause in a contract that stipulates that mediation shall be attempted prior to the commencement of any litigation (and so by analogy arbitration etc), then a party to that contract may enforce the clause and compel any other party to the contract to attempt mediation. Any court or tribunal, which would have jurisdiction to adjudicate the dispute, must stay the proceedings until the clause has been complied with.

Comment

This is a decision of France’s highest court (its equivalent of the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords) and is consistent with the current state of English Law. The decision is important for a number of reasons. It will remove the brake on the development of mediation in France and enable them to use ADR positively. It also shows the development of a Pan-European judicial attitude to the importance of mediation and the desirability of upholding that process. It is a decision made against a backdrop of a European Commission Green Paper on ADR and its importance within the EU.