The Mediation Act was brought into force to facilitate and encourage the settlement of dispute by mediation, as an alternative to litigation. Mediation allows disputing parties to be involved in a more collaborative process as opposed to resolving matters by way of civil proceedings. The Act envisages that, by using the assistance of a mediator the parties have the opportunity to resolve disputes by negotiation and agreement.
Appropriate Dispute Resolution
Mediation has been successfully used for dispute resolution for decades in Ireland. However, the Act promotes, reinforces and supports this process by specifying principles and arrangements applicable to mediation as an alternative to the institution of civil proceedings. The Act also offers an alternative to pursuing proceedings already initiated and provides codes of practice to which mediators may subscribe.
Mediation Council of Ireland
In addition, the Act provides for the recognition of a body known as the Mediation Council of Ireland for the purpose of this Act. The Act requires the Council to report to the Minister for Justice and Equality. It also provides a scheme which gives an opportunity to parties involved in family law proceedings or proceedings under section 67A(3) or 117 of the Succession Act to attend mediation information session. These relate to spousal share and provision for children disputes under the Succession Act. Not all disputes are suitable for mediation.
An increase in the use of mediation in dispute resolution has the potential to:
- allow disputing parties to settle or reconcile differences;
- achieve a more balanced outcome for the parties involved;
- reduce costs;
- reduce number of cases being heard by the Court system;
The Act can be accessed here.