Russian Government Adopts Model Mediation Training Program

The new Russian Law on Mediation which entered into force in January 2011 imposes special requirements on those who want to become professional mediators. In order to become a professional mediator apart from having a university degree, it is necessary to pass a special mediation training according to a program approved as established by the Russian Government. The Government already instructed the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Justice to prepare and approve the program of mediators’ training.

From a comparative perspective, it is a rather unusual practice to approve such program on a governmental level. On the contrary, normally the instruction of mediators is carried out according to curricula worked out by the academic institutions. This shows that the Russian Government and the legislator seriously seeks to ensure the quality of mediation services in Russia. At the same time it also demonstrates that the state is inclined to play its part in controlling the formation of standards for mediators rather than to let the process for private entities.

Not surprisingly, when the draft text of the model program appeared at the website of the Ministry of Education and Science last December, many mediation training centers (which were never involved in its drafting) were concerned that they would have to adapt their programs to the one approved by the Government. They tried to influence the content of the latter advancing alternative proposal. But this was not an easy task. Still personal connections are often crucial in Russia for adoption of a legislative text and many say that such connections determined the content of this program rather than the quality of a particular training program.

The Model Program for mediators was approved by the Regulation of the Ministry of Education and Science of February 14, 2011. Since its registration by the Ministry of Justice on March 1 it has become effective and each mediation training center must base its program on this one. The program can be consulted in Russian here.

The Model Program consists of three levels: basic, special and ‘trainers training’, each followed by examination. If the examination is passed, the mediation training center issues an appropriate certificate. Completing the basic level entitles the person to mediate disputes but not to train mediators. The special level ‘upgrades’ the mediator’s competence in particular subject areas (civil, commercial, multy-party, project management, labor, family, IP, administrative, judicial, restorative justice, juvenile justice).

The 3rd level grants right to train mediator at the basic level. The intriguing issue is how the state will enforce the observance of the program. Who will decide whether the training program is sufficiently close to the officially approved model? What will happen if a mediation training center is considered to have a ‘wrong’ program? Many mediation centers fear a kind of inquisition which would eradicate “herecy”, i.e. make them follow the officially approved program or terminate their education activity altogether. Also there is an unresolved question of the status of persons who were successfully trained as mediators before the program became effective and/or had prior successful mediation experience.

There is a number of entities practicing mediation in Russia for several years in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Rostov-on-the Don and other cities. Apart from that there are many practicing individual mediators. The requirement to pass the training as approved by the Government has a serious impact on the competition on the mediation services market because the Mediation Law prohibits those who were not trained according to the Model program to advertize their services.

Dmitry Davydenko

About the Author:

Dr Davydenko is the Director and co-editor of the CIS Arbitration Forum. He is Vice Chairman of the Panel of Mediators at the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and advises Russian and international clients on international business law matters. He is listed as a recommended arbitrator of International Commercial Arbitration Court and Maritime Arbitration Commission at Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as some other arbitral institutions.

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