Last Friday 10th of November 2023, in the Lambros Margaritis Auditorium of the Greek Ministry of Justice in Athens, the institutional event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the European Group of Magistrates for Mediation took place.
Greece was the country chosen for this presentation as the Greek national section, GEMME Hellas, joined GEMME earlier this year, bringing the number of GEMME member countries to 25.
The event had a very interesting opening table, whose protagonists were:
- Ioannis D. Bougas, Deputy Minister of Justice
- Rosalía Fernández, President of GEMME
- Miltiadis Chatzigeorgiou, President of GEMME Hellas
The speeches delivered by each of them can be downloaded at the end of this article, some of the most important messages are highlighted below:
“Mediation, where it is legislated and implemented, works in favour of citizens, who use it to resolve private law disputes that are amenable to mediation directly and effectively and contributes to speeding up the administration of justice, as disputes resolved out of the court, are no longer needed to be dealt by the civil courts.
Taking into account, the annual report of the Central Mediation Commission, it was observed that in the total number of post-mediation disputes, the number of 2022 cases that resulted in an agreement increased by 6% compared to the
previous year, with most cases involving family disputes and property disputes. It is therefore commonly accepted that mediation is both contributing to the upgrading of our legal culture as a whole, and is also becoming entrenched in the minds of citizens as an alternative method of resolving their disputes beyond that of litigation.”, said the Deputy Minister of Justice, Ioannis D. Bougas, during his speech.
“Since its creation, GEMME has played a fundamental role in the promotion of mediation and has tried to progress towards the humanization of justice, in order to improve the quality of judicial systems and provide a direct answer to the changing necessities of a heavily stressed society, in a global context of multiple crises and interpersonal relationships more and more complex.
During all this time, we have been able to confirm the positive impact of this method over people’s lives.
Mediation is not simply an alternative to the judicial process, but a real paradigm shift. It is directly linked to the culture of peace, the promotion of human rights and the building of a society for everyone. It is a powerful instrument of social cohesion. And on this matter, we judges have a lot to say and even more to do.” were part of the words of GEMME's president, the Spanish judge Rosalia Fernández Alaya.
“European judicial systems have always been and still are affordable to the average citizen, and legal fees are equally affordable. Thus, recourse to the natural judge remains in the social conscience as the appropriate way to resolve private disputes, since it is also surrounded by all the institutional legal guarantees. The same conditions exist in our country, even more so as we have the third highest ratio of lawyers among the population in Europe. That explains there was no social need for the parties to resort to a private mediator, paid by the parties.
We and the Ministry of Justice with the Central Mediation Committee aim to transform this mentality, taking inspiration from the GEMME European counterparts, for if people in our country become accustomed to mediating their disputes, society will be more serene. And little by little the results of this effort are sure to be seen.
So, having in mind that we are an association of judges and not an association of mediation practitioners or mediators or a mediation training organization, we would like to spread to the whole society the idea of mediation as the best way of resolving disputes.” said GEMME Hellas president Miltiadis Chatzigeorgiou, Vice President Emeritus of Areios Pagos (Greek Supreme Court)
Almost 80 people attended the event. They were mostly Greek judges, lawyers and mediators as well as representatives of many of GEMME's national sections who were in Athens for our association's board meeting the following day.
The new GEMME Hellas section was almost fully present and its treasurer, Georgia Angelidakis, presented the event.
The day has been widely reported in the Greek media, and links to some of them are included below.
Undoubtedly, a memorable day in the history of GEMME, which on 18 December will be 20 years since its first meeting and on 19 March, 20 years since its official registration as a European association under French law.
FULL TEXT OF SPEECHES TO DOWNLOAD
Ministry of Justice website - Speech by the Deputy Minister of Justice at the GEMME event
Recording of the Opening Table