Article 170

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1. For the purposes of Article 151(3), the Office may establish a Mediation Centre (‘the Centre’).

2. Any natural or legal person may use the Centre's services on a voluntary basis with the aim of reaching a friendly settlement of disputes, based on this Regulation or Regulation (EC) No 6/2002, by mutual agreement.

3. The parties shall have recourse to mediation by means of a joint request. The request shall not be deemed to have been filed until the corresponding charge has been paid. The Executive Director shall fix the amount to be charged in accordance with Article 178(1).

4. In the case of disputes subject to the proceedings pending before the Opposition Divisions, Cancellation Divisions or before the Boards of Appeal of the Office a joint request for mediation may be presented at any time after the lodging of a notice of opposition, an application for revocation or an application for a declaration of invalidity or a notice of appeal against decisions of the Opposition or Cancellation Divisions.

5. The proceedings in question shall be suspended and the time periods, other than the time periods for the payment of the applicable fee, shall be interrupted as from the date of the filing of a joint request for mediation. The time periods shall continue as from the day on which the proceedings are resumed.

6. The parties shall be invited to jointly appoint, from the list referred to in paragraph 12, a mediator who has declared that he has a command of the language of the mediation in question. Where the parties do not appoint a mediator within 20 days of the invitation to do so, the mediation shall be deemed to have failed.

7. The parties shall agree together with the mediator on the detailed arrangements for the mediation in a mediation agreement.

8. The mediator shall conclude the mediation proceedings as soon as the parties reach a settlement agreement, or one of the parties declares that it wishes to end the mediation or the mediator establishes that the parties have failed to reach such an agreement.

9. The mediator shall inform the parties as well as the relevant instance of the Office as soon as the mediation proceedings have been concluded.

10. The discussions and negotiations conducted within the framework of mediation shall be confidential for all persons involved in the mediation, in particular for the mediator, the parties and their representatives. All documents and information submitted during the mediation shall be kept separately from, and shall not be part of, the file of any other proceedings before the Office.

11. The mediation shall be conducted in one of the official languages of the Union to be agreed upon by the parties. Where the mediation relates to disputes pending before the Office, the mediation shall be conducted in the language of the Office proceedings, unless otherwise agreed by the parties.

12. The Office shall establish a list of mediators who shall support parties in resolving disputes. The mediators shall be independent and possess relevant skills and experience. The list may include mediators who are employed by the Office, and mediators who are not so employed.

13. Mediators shall be impartial in the exercise of their duties and shall declare any real or perceived conflict of interest upon their designation. Members of the decision-making instances of the Office listed in Article 159 shall not take part in mediation concerning a case in which they have:
(a) had any prior involvement in the proceedings referred to mediation;
(b) any personal interest in those proceedings; or
(c) been previously involved as a representative of one of the parties.

14. Mediators shall not take part as members of the decision-making instances of the Office listed in Article 159 in proceedings resumed as a consequence of a mediation failure.

15. The Office may cooperate with other recognised national or international bodies dealing with mediation.