Act promotes mediation as alternative to court proceedings

Domestic violence survivors must be told mediation may not be suited to their cases

The Mediation Act 2017 aims to promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings to reduce costs, speed up resolutions and relieve  stress of  going to court.

The Mediation Act 2017 aims to promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings to reduce costs, speed up resolutions and relieve stress of going to court.

 

Legislation to promote mediation as an alternative to court proceedings in civil disputes has been signed into law.

The Mediation Act 2017 aims to promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings to reduce costs, speed up resolutions and relieve the stress involved in going to court.

Under the legislation, solicitors are obliged to advise people in dispute to consider mediation and, where court proceedings are launched, parties will be required to confirm to the court they have considered using mediation.

In family law cases, people will be required to attend an information session on mediation and, after cases have begun, the court may invite the parties to consider mediation.

The legislation, signed recently by President Michael D Higgins, also provides for the introduction of codes of practice for mediators.

Child custody

The legislation was amended following concerns raised by domestic violence charity Women’s Aid in July that the law would force survivors of domestic violence into mediation with perpetrators over issues such as child custody and access. The amendment stipulated that solicitors must advise clients mediation is voluntary and may not be an appropriate means of resolving disputes where the safety of the client and/or their children is at risk.

Welcoming the legislation, Sabine Walsh, president of the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland, said it provided a State endorsement for the practice of mediation. “This in turn raises the status of mediation as an effective dispute resolution process and I expect we will see a significant rise in the demand for mediation among the Irish people,” she said.