New Court procedural rules were introduced in late 2010 whereby the High Court can adjourn proceedings to allow the parties to engage in mediation, conciliation or other dispute resolution methods, with the exception of arbitration (the “ADR Rules”). The ADR Rules supplement similar rules that have been in place in the Commercial Court since 2004. However, unlike the Commercial Court rules, cost sanctions may be imposed where a party fails or refuses to participate in ADR, without good reason.

For more information on the new ADR Rules, please click here.

The new ADR Rules are in line with the recently published LRC report on ADR, which focuses on mediation and conciliation as an alternative to traditional litigation. The LRC report recommends the introduction of new legislation in relation to mediation and conciliation, a draft copy of which is attached to it’s report (Mediation and Conciliation Bill). The proposed Bill requires a solicitor to advise a client, prior to initiating any civil or commercial proceedings, to consider mediation or conciliation, and further requires a party commencing civil or commercial proceedings to sign a certificate confirming that mediation or conciliation (or both) have been considered as processes for settling the dispute.

It is unknown when or even if the LRC’s draft legislation will be enacted, particularly in light of Ireland’s recent change in government. However, EC Directive 2008/52/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, on certain aspects of mediation and civil and commercial matters, adopted 21 May 2008, is due for transposition in Ireland before 21 May 2011. The Directive is aimed at encouraging the use of mediation in civil and commercial matters and to make the legal status of certain mediation practice uniform among Member States of the EU. In this regard, the Directive’s cross–border element can be distinguished from the LRC’s proposed legislative framework for ADR which would apply to disputes arising within Ireland. The LRC does however recommend that the provisions of the Directive be extended to domestic disputes, thereby suggesting that the transposition of the Directive in May might encourage the new government to adopt the LRC’s legislative framework for mediation and conciliation or least put it on it’s agenda.

For more information on the LRC Report, please click here.