On 7 January 2011 the Supreme Court of India, in the case of Moti Ram (D) Tr. LRs and Anr. Vs Ashok Kumar and Anr (Civic Appeal No. 1095 of 2008), held that mediation proceedings were confidential in nature, and that only an executed settlement agreement or alternatively a statement that the mediation proceedings were unsuccessful, should be provided to the court by the mediator.
In this case the Supreme Court had made a direction for the parties to take part in a mediation in order to try and settle their dispute. After the mediator had provided a report of the mediation proceedings to the court, the Supreme Court held that mediation proceedings were confidential in nature, although such confidentiality could be lost in the event that the mediation proceedings were disclosed. The court gave guidance to mediators in relation to preserving confidentiality by holding that, if the mediation proceedings resulted in a settlement, the mediator should only provide a copy of the executed settlement agreement to the court, and not disclose anything about what transpired during the mediation proceedings. Alternatively, if the mediation proceedings did not directly result in a settlement, the mediator should only provide the court with a statement setting out that the mediation proceedings were unsuccessful.
Prior to this judgment, whilst parties were free to make a contractual agreement to maintain confidentiality of mediation proceedings, no statutory authority provided that mediation proceedings were confidential. The judgment is expected to improve the popularity of mediation as a method of resolving disputes in India, particularly amongst non-Indian parties.