In order to counteract the almost inevitable increase in civil lawsuits, which lead to a further burden on the judiciary as well as to the detriment of the economy, the Italian legislator has introduced a mandatory mediation procedure for (road) transport contracts. In order to counteract the almost inevitable increase in civil actions, which further burden the judiciary and harm the economy, the Italian legislator, with Law No. 70/2020, added Art. 3, paragraph 6ter to Legislative Decree No. 6/2020 and provided for the compulsory mediation procedure for all cases arising from the debtor's liability for delays or non-fulfilment of contractual obligations that occurred as a result of the measures taken by Covid-19 to contain the pandemic (see also Art. 3, paragraph 6bis of Legislative Decree No. 6/2020).
As is well known, mediation, whether compulsory or optional, is one of the ADR tools that the EU, as well as the Italian legislator, wishes to increase in order to reduce the workload of the civil courts. With regard to the inapplicability of the so-called "compulsory negotiation procedure with legal assistance" to road haulage contracts subject to the CMR, the District Court of Verona had already expressed its opinion in a judgment of 27 February 2018. Following the judgment of the European Court of Justice of 14 June 2017 in Case C-75/16, according to which ADR procedures are not to be considered EU-compliant if they a) do not lead to a decision that is binding on the parties; b) entail a significant delay in legal proceedings; c) do not serve the purpose of interrupting the statute of limitations or forfeiture; d) cause significant costs to the parties, the District Court of Verona on 16.01.2020 took up the latter condition and held that this ADR procedure causes significant additional costs to the parties, so that it is contrary to European legislation and should not be applied.
Based on these arguments, the question now arises whether the newly added "Covid- 19 conditional mandatory mediation procedure" also applies in the area of (international) transport law. Initial considerations are likely to lead to an analogous application of the argument adopted by the Verona Regional Court in its judgment cited above, according to which road transport under the CMR regime is exclusively subject to the requirements of Art. 31 of the CMR. Consequently, the mediation procedure should be excluded. On the other hand, the cost argument of the second decision of the Verona Regional Court no longer applies here. We are curious to see how the case law on this issue will develop and will report back.