Krasnodar, 2 July. Our today’s interviewee is Yelena Ksenofontova, lawyer, Chairperson of the Committee for Mediation of the regional branch of OPORA Russia NGO.
Q.: What is the main difference between mediation and other, more customary means of solutions to conflict cases, like, say, court?
A.: The procedure of mediation can be performed only upon the expressed will of the parties, whereas a legal process is always initiated contrary to the will of one of the parties. Besides, mediation is fully confidential, which precludes any reputation risks: for instance, entrepreneurs will not find information about their debts on the court website. The parts to the conflict themselves determine the work conditions for a mediation process, and choose the intermediary (mediator). The mediation procedure is fast and to some extent informal: the parties themselves determine how and when they are prepared to settle a disagreement, and when and where the conciliation will take place. One of important differences is that mediation takes into consideration interests of the parties, while a lawsuit considers evidence and legal positions. That is, one may not go to court without documental support, but they can address a mediator in such case.
Q.: Can the mediator’s role in the settlement of conflicts be dangerous?
A.: In order to achieve a positive result, a mediator must prevent being manipulated. So far, the current state of our professional community does not allow mediators to really efficiently cooperate with notaries, governmental bodies or banks. Besides, it quite often occurs that I deny a conciliating procedure if there is no dispute but the parties contrived an illegitimate plot in which they want to use me. After my resounding mediations, I was getting lots of offers to sign an agreement in return for money, but without settling the case. Regretfully, such schemes will continue to be contrived in the future, and they will become more sophisticated.
Q.: Do you think that the development of such scenario can be prevented?
A.: I consider it necessary to develop and ensure the uniform application of single mediation standards, assessment of skills and competences of respective experts, and their ethical behaviour in all regions.
Q.: What was the main incentive to develop the bill “On the Federal Mediators Chamber in the Russian Federation”?
A.: When I studied mediation abroad, I could not stop wondering: “Why can’t we be as good as them?” What I now can tell you is that mediation has a grandiose path of its own in Russia; we will not be able to copy the techniques applied in other countries – but we should not do it. What we should is adopt the experiences of other countries and build our own model. I believe that Russia needs a structure based on its cultural sphere, on its values resting on our history and traditions, that will promote the consolidation of mediators, implementation of mediation into all spheres of our life, lower public strife, and set the mediation trends at the international level.
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