Germans prefer to resolve their conflicts without taking it to the courts, and with the help of a neutral, third party. The so-called mediation law permits these resolutions to be legally binding. Mediation reduces the workload of the courts and often leads to a resolution accepted by both conflict parties.
Mediation is a structured approach which guarantees that its proceedings do not become public. The conflict parties participate freely in the mediation process and are asked to seek resolution in good faith.
The mediator is a neutral and independent party, but has no power to force a resolution. The mediator guides the conflict parties to a resolution which they have formulated.
The mediation law also allows for ombudsmen, or neutral third party organizations, which also offer conflict resolution services. These include banks, insurance companies, the German rail system, scientific research organizations, local utility companies, real estate associations, legal organizations. The association of banks, for example, in 2011 resolved over 8,000 conflicts. The insurance association resolved just over 17,000 conflicts.