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Mediation and Legal Assistance

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The development of alternative dispute resolution procedures raises a number of new problems and questions for jurisprudence and legal practice. Many of these are closely related to the implementation of mediation procedures. Significant attention has been paid in the legal literature to the need for mediators’ legal education. Nowadays a professional lawyer usually performs the functions of a mediator. Nevertheless, in some countries the competence of mediators can be limited. In fact, such persons may be prohibited from providing any legal assistance to the parties. A direct prohibition of this kind exists in Russian legislation. To what degree is this prohibition realistic and reasonable? Different countries enjoy different approaches to the possibility of providing disputing parties with a mediator’s legal assistance in addressing issues requiring legal advice or in the drafting of legal documents. Different approaches to this issue have appeared for various reasons. The absence of consensus is caused by a contradiction between the principle of mediator neutrality in the conflict resolution process and the goals of dispute settlement in which a legally competent intermediary is involved. To ensure the effectiveness of the mediation process, legislators should seek out more flexible ways of regulating procedure. Mandatory regulation itself contradicts the spirit of ‘semi-formal’ alternative (extrajudicial) methods for conflict resolution. As such, the presence of direct prohibitions or severe restrictions may not only become challenging in the performance of law but such peremptory norms can also make mediation unattractive and ineffective for some particular types of dispute, such as labor disputes. The principle of preserving a mediator’s neutrality is possible if exercised within the framework of a balanced approach to reasonable limits and discretionary rules for the provision of certain types of legal assistance to disputing parties.
The present article aims to consider the possibilities and limitations on a mediator’s ability to provide particular types of legal assistance where the guarantee of non-discrimination between disputing parties’ interests is presupposed.

About the Authors

Larisa Zaitseva
Tyumen State University
Russian Federation
PhD in Law, Associate Professor, Head of the Department of Labor Law and Entrepreneurship of Tyumen State University (38 Lenin str., Tyumen, 625400, Russia)

Svetlana Racheva
Tyumen State University
Russian Federation

Associate Professor of Foreign Languages
and Intercultural Professional Communication Department for Law and Economics
of Tyumen State University, PhD in Education, LL.M. (38 Lenin str., Tyumen, 625400,


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For citation:

Zaitseva L., Racheva S. Mediation and Legal Assistance. Russian Law Journal. 2014;2(2):145-156.

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ISSN 2309-8678 (Print)
ISSN 2312-3605 (Online)