In a suite of legislative changes culminating in the Rules of the Superior Courts (Mediation and Conciliation) which came into force in October 2010, the Republic of Ireland has amended its domestic ADR framework to promote further the use of ADR. In particular, Circuit Court and High Court judges will now be allowed to adjourn proceedings to facilitate the use of ADR and the High Court has been granted discretion to impose costs consequences for litigating parties who refuse or fail to engage in ADR.
Existing rules, in place since 2004, permit the Commercial Court (dealing with cases over at least €1 million in value) to adjourn proceedings for up to 28 days in order to facilitate mediation, conciliation or arbitration. This development encourages the use of ADR in larger commercial cases. The new rules seek to increase the use of ADR in lower value disputes by way of similar provisions. The new rules for Circuit Court proceedings (for disputes below €38,092.14 in value) came into force on 1 January 2010 and contain a similar provision to the Commercial Court rules. In addition, the Rules of the Superior Courts now include two provisions: one giving greater powers to the courts to order ADR, and a second, more significant, provision giving the High Court and Supreme Court discretion to consider a party's refusal or failure to engage in ADR in any order for costs.