The Mediation Act 2017 came into operation on 01 January 2018 and has the following effects on civil proceedings issued on or after this date;
- Solicitors are obliged to advise clients to consider mediation in advance of issuing legal proceedings.
- Specific information in relation to mediation must be provided by Solicitors to their clients.
- A Court can invite parties to consider mediation as an alternative to litigation.
- Costs can be awarded against parties who unreasonably refuse to attend mediation.
- Mediation Agreements can be enforced by the Court.
- The confidentiality of the mediation process is now protected in legislation.
- Participation in mediation will still be voluntary – though strongly recommended.
- Mediators must provide parties with a formal Agreement to Mediate.
The Act applies to all civil proceedings with the exception of arbitration, disputes being investigated by the Workplace Relations Commission, certain taxation disputes, judicial reviews and family law matters.
Those individuals and organisations that have used mediation as a way to resolve disputes are aware of how powerful and dynamic a solution it can be.
Hopefully, with the commencement of the Act, many others will experience the wide ranging benefits available by using mediation as a real alternative to the formal litigation process.