Mediation and Arbitration groups in Ireland have welcomed the passage of the Ireland Mediation Act 2017, which they trust would dramatically change the legal regime of that country.
The Act, which encourages litigating parties to resort to mediation as the first option, provides an opportunity for the legal system to become fairer, to reduce costs massively, and to significantly reduce the backlog of cases before the courts.
Solicitors and barristers now have a statutory obligation to advise their clients of the mediation option and provide information on mediation services, including details of mediators, information about the advantages and benefits of mediation, information on confidentiality obligations and the enforceability of mediation settlements.
Cork-based solicitor and chairman of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Ireland branch (CIArb), Bill Mollohan, expressed delight at the passage of the Bill for which CIArb Ireland has been campaigning for since making submissions to the Oireachtas Justice Committee in 2012.
The Act now provides a statutory basis for the delivery of mediation services. Before a dispute ever ends up in court, both parties have a chance to settle their differences in a less intimidating setting and with a fraction of the costs.
There is nothing to lose, according to Mr Holohan — if mediation does not work, the opportunity for your day in court stays intact.
“A court case which can take weeks and weeks, if not months sometimes, can be reduced to more of something which can be sorted out within a day.
“From the point of view of costs, you are talking about a huge differential.
The Mediators’ Institute of Ireland (MII) also welcomed the passage of the Bill
“We are delighted that the Dáil has passed the Mediation Bill and that the Bill will be enacted upon the signature of the President,” stated President of the MII Sabine Walsh.
“The timing of this announcement is a great boost for mediation in Ireland and comes just ahead of Mediation Awareness Week October 7th to 14th. The MII has been campaigning for such a Bill almost since the Institute’s foundation 25 years ago and the passing of the Bill represents an official recognition by the State of the contribution mediation can make to the improvement of dispute resolution systems in Ireland.”
“The Bill will make mediation more available and deliver better resolutions, at a lower cost, to those who are involved in disputes,” said Ms. Walsh. “Enactment of the Bill has the potential to divert many civil and commercial disputes from our courts and deliver major savings to individuals and the public purse.**
Enactment will also entail increased responsibilities for mediators and for our profession. We will need to raise the level of awareness about how mediation works and what it can deliver for people involved in disputes. The MII, which sets the professional standards for accredited mediators will work to improve these standards over time and to build confidence in the practice of mediation for users in the weeks, months and years ahead.”