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Mediation Bill 2017

  • Ireland
  • General

04-10-2017

On Tuesday 26 September 2017 the Mediation Bill was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and sent for signing to the President of Ireland, to bring it into Law. The Long awaited Mediation Bill was signed by the President on 2 October 2017.

No less a luminary than Abraham Lincoln, presciently stated “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbours to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man.”

It is in this context that the Bill was first listed in the 2011 Programme for Government, quickly followed by the publication of a draft General Scheme of the Bill in 2012. Ultimately on 9 February 2017 the Minister for Justice published the earlier drafts of the Mediation Bill (the “Bill”), which have come through both Houses of the Oireachtas and been signed into law by the President.

A fundamental underlying goal of that Bill being, to promote mediation as a cost and time efficient alternative to litigation and to put mediation on a general statutory footing under Irish Law.

Lawyers and litigants alike have sought to deploy alternative dispute resolution techniques to speed up litigation and/or to make it more effective and efficient, allowing opposing parties to resolve disputes in a more user friendly and efficient environment: Mediation is one of the core techniques deployed to do this and now has a firm statutory footing as legal practitioners and disputing parties alike are compelled to bring mediation to the table.

The Act now compels legal practitioners to ensure their clients consider mediation prior to issuing proceedings. Solicitors now must provide information to clients on mediation services and on the benefits of mediation as a form of dispute resolution. Clients must also be informed of the confidentiality of the process and the enforceability of mediation settlements. There is equally an added onus on lawyers, as all originating court documents must be accompanied by a statutory declaration from a solicitor confirming compliance with the mediation obligations. Where legal proceedings are issued without the accompanying statutory declaration, a Court can adjourn the proceedings to allow for compliance.

The Act also allows a Court to invite parties to participate in mediation, either on the application of one of the parties or where the Court considers it appropriate, and provides for the adjournment of proceedings to facilitate mediation. An unreasonable refusal or failure to consider the option of mediation can also be taken into account by the Court when awarding costs.

Although not strictly new obligations, they ring fence the obligations under a statutory footing, thereby forcing the legal profession to commit to mediation. We cannot expect dramatic changes, in the immediate update on the use of mediation, but logic would dictate that usage will fundamentally increase over the coming months and years as the mediation concept becomes embedded into the Irish legal psyche.

For more information contact

Dermot McEvoy, Partner

Disclaimer

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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