A simple misunderstanding between neighbors can very quickly take unexpected proportions. In an attempt to resolve conflicts and restore communication between neighbors, most Walloon and Brussels municipalities have created a neighborhood mediation service.
Mediation is a method to resolve disputes amicably. It requires the intervention of a neutral, impartial and independent person: the mediator.
In neighborhood conflicts, the emotional plays a major role. Neighborhood mediation aims to foster dialogue between neighbors in conflict and to help them find a balanced and fair solution together where everyone is “winners”.
Neighborhood mediation can be between two neighbors living next to each other and between groups of people living in the same neighborhood. Thus, the mediator can be solicited for all kinds of situations: the noise of night, trash cans lying on the sidewalk, the non-respect of a reserved parking space … In all these situations, the police are often challenged by the complainants. Their intervention can temporarily appease the spirits but it rarely solves the problem at the base.
Understand each other
The mediator’s mission is to defuse, in a sustainable way, a situation of tension. Most neighborhood conflicts are resolved when each party hears and understands the other’s point of view. For optimum functioning of mediation, certain essential principles must be respected. Thus, neighbor mediation service must voluntarily engage in the process and be placed on an equal footing.
They remain masters of their conflict during mediation. It is up to them to formulate a solution. The mediator listens to the versions without taking sides or imposing anything. It just helps the parties find a satisfactory solution for everyone. This will only be more sustainable and will restore a serene climate.
Today, most Walloon and Brussels municipalities have a free neighborhood mediation service. This response to the dual desire to reduce the feeling of insecurity and improve the quality of life of citizens. In case of conflict, it is therefore sufficient, first, to address his municipality. An appointment will be arranged with the mediator who will collect the complaints.
Then, with the agreement of the applicant, the mediator will contact and meet with the neighbor to hear his point of view and to inform him of a proposal for mediation. In case of agreement, he will organize a direct meeting in a neutral place, his office, for example. The process can be interrupted at any time if a party is not satisfied or ultimately prefers to rely on justice.
Other tracks …
If the municipality does not have a neighborhood mediation service, it is always possible to use the paid services of an outside mediator or not (lawyer, notary …)
In all cases, conciliation before the justice of the peace is also possible. The application is free and must be submitted to the registry of justice of the peace. The judge tries to reconcile the divergent points of view but he does not take a position. It’s up to the parties to reach an agreement. If they succeed, a conciliation report is drawn up by the justice of the peace, and it will be made thus obligatory.
If the complainant does not wish to discuss or the friendly settlement attempts have failed (the accused neighbor did not appear at the consultation hearing, for example) then it is still possible to ask the judge to peace to decide the conflict itself according to the arguments of the parties. But this procedure pays off. And this is probably not the best solution to appease neighborhood relations or participate calmly in the party of neighbors …