New High Court Rules* which promote the use of mediation and conciliation come into effect today, 16th November 2010.

  • The Court, on the application of any of the parties involved in litigation, or on its own motion, may adjourn proceedings in order to allow the parties to engage in "an ADR process". An "ADR process" is defined as including mediation, conciliation or another dispute resolution process approved by the court, but not arbitration**.
  • If a party refuses to participate in an approved ADR process without good reason, the court may award costs against that party***.
  • The implementation of these new rules is indicative of the growing support for the use of mediation and conciliation as viable alternatives to litigation.
  • This rule change brings into mainstream practice a procedure which the Commercial Court has been applying successfully in its rules since 2004. But also note the explicit jurisdiction now given to the High Court to award costs if a party unreasonably refuses to participate in an approved ADR process.

The text of the new Order 56A is available here.

The text of the new Rule 1B in Order 99 is available here.