Legal framework

As of today, mediation proceedings in Germany are not governed by a specific regulatory act. Therefore, the parties are basically free to set up rules as to how the mediation should be run.

In practice, most mediators will be prepared to assist the parties in this process by proposing a set of rules which the parties may accept or adapt. If the parties have agreed on mediation proceedings administered by an institution, for example, the Mediation Centre for Business Conflicts of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, the institution provides the parties with a set of rules which the parties may accept or adapt.

In general, the majority of mediation proceedings follow these steps:

To begin with the parties will establish an agreement where they agree to try and solve their dispute by means of mediation. This is the so-called "mediation agreement". The  agreement can be decided upon either before or after the dispute has arisen. Several institutions offer so-called "model clauses" for these agreements.

The parties must choose a mediator. In Germany, the term "mediator" is not a legally protected term, hence the task is to find a person who displays the qualities required to assist the parties in solving their individual dispute. There are several institutions able to assist the parties with this selection. Some of them publish lists of trained mediators on their websites which may or may not indicate individual competences and experience of the listed persons.

Once established the main function of the mediator is to guide the parties through their dispute issues as a means of gaining a satisfactory resolution.

The decision to settle or not to settle the dispute will always remain in the hands of the parties. If the parties reach an agreement, a contract is usually written up outlining the terms of agreement.