Image by Stephen Twist
Did you know that on 1 March 2012 the Irish Department of Justice published its draft general scheme for a Mediation Bill?
Under the Bill, mediation would be facilitated and encouraged in civil, commercial and family disputes – replacing litigation wherever appropriate. Yes, the Law Reform Commission’s recommendations in their ‘Report on Alternative Dispute Resolution – Mediation and Conciliation‘ have been taken and acted upon.
The draft Bill proposes:
- A new statutory duty on solicitors and barristers to inform their clients about mediation as an alternative means of resolving disputes before issuing a claim – and to certify that they have done so;
- Confidentiality of all communications between parties in the course of mediation;
- Empowering the parties to engage in mediation and deciding their mediated outcomes – but providing for binding agreements unless specified otherwise;
- Giving the courts statutory powers to ‘invite’ parties to consider mediation, enabling adjournments for this purpose, and power to award costs to those unreasonably refusing to engage;
- Placing an obligation on mediators to inform the parties of their qualifications/training, and to report back to the court on outcomes.
The Minister is to forward the draft Bill to the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Justice, Defence and Equality prior to publication. The Committee has until 1 June 2012 to report back to the Minister.
(With thanks to Jarleth Heneghan & Cassandra Byrne).