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Home > Country profiles > Germany > Articles > Article detail

Conciliation with a Mediation Touch – 10 Years of Consumer Conciliation for Public Transportation in Germany

Wednesday, 30th January 2020

"Two days ago I attended a birthday party – one of Germany’s most active consumer conciliation bodies celebrated its ten-year anniversary. There was an interesting panel discussion on the role of consumer conciliation in Germany and in Europe, particularly given that the European Union has attempted to promote this service through its DIRECTIVE 2013/11/EU on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes, and Germany followed this up with the 2016 Consumer Dispute Resolution Law, requiring companies to make their willingness or non-willingness to participate in consumer conciliation programmes transparent, though still giving them the option not to take part.

The ten-year old Conciliation Body for Public Transportation (söp) managed more than 30,000 cases in 2019, which is a great increase compared to the beginnings with 1500 in the first year. Nonetheless, opinion on the panel at the anniversary event was united that the number of cases that go to consumer conciliation is still too low and that a lot can still be done to improve awareness and access.

Whether this is a task the legislator should be concerned with is one of the questions I asked the director of the Conciliation Body, Dr. Christof Berlin, at the birthday event. He affirmed the voluntary nature of ADR processes, and the autonomy of the parties, and was sceptical about legislating to make ADR mandatory, although he did see the merits of the 2013 Law on Conciliation in Air Traffic, which requires all airlines operating in Germany to participate in a consumer conciliation scheme. There are no provisions for mandatory mediation in Germany.

Dr. Berlin is a qualified attorney, and he practiced law for a while before joining the Conciliation Body. He is also a trained mediator, so I was particularly interested in how each of these backgrounds complement each other – or stand in each other’s way – in his work. In consumer conciliation it is crucial that the law is taken into account, and all the conciliators at the Conciliation Body for Public Transportation are fully qualified lawyers. Their settlement proposals, which the parties are free to accept or reject, never undercut what the complainant consumers would be entitled to by law."

Select the link to read this article in full:  

Source: Bond & Bond Mediation / University of Wildau
Language: English
Contact: Greg Bond

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