An introduction to the Mediation Act 2017
Department of Justice
The general objective of the Mediation Act 2017 is to promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings thereby reducing legal costs, speeding up the resolution of disputes and relieving the stress involved in court proceedings.
The proposed Bill will:
- introduce an obligation on solicitors and barristers to advise parties to disputes to consider utilising mediation as a means of resolving them and, where court proceedings are launched, requires parties to proceedings to confirm to the court that they have been so advised and have considered using mediation as a means of resolving the dispute;
- in family law cases, parties will be required to attend an information session on mediation;
- provide that a court may, on its own initiative or on the initiative of the parties, and following the commencement of proceedings, invite the parties to consider mediation as a means of resolving the dispute;
- provide for the suspension of court proceedings in such cases to facilitate the mediation process;
- contain general principles for the conduct of mediation by qualified mediators;
- provide that communications between parties during mediation shall be confidential;
- provide that the parties to the mediation determine among themselves the enforceability of any agreement reached during the mediation process;
- provide that the costs of mediation must be reasonable and proportionate and not linked to the outcome of the process;
- make specific provision for the involvement of children in mediation in family law disputes;
- provide for the introduction of codes of practice for the conduct of mediation by qualified mediators.
What does it mean for you?
- The Mediation Act came into force on 1 January 2018 and as a result mediations are more regulated than in the past.
- For a party to mediation this is good news as safeguards are now enshrined in law. For example, the Act requires the mediator to act with impartiality and integrity and to treat the parties fairly.
- It also requires the mediator to deal expeditiously with the mediation thereby reducing the costs.
- Before you mediate, you, the other party and the mediator will come to agreement confirming that the process is voluntary and parties can leave if they want; it is confidential; you can bring an advisor or supporter to the mediation; you will be given the opportunity at all stages to seek legal advice; if agreement is reached it can be a legally binding agreement ( or not if the parties prefer); how and when the fees will be of the mediator will be charged and paid will be agreed before you start;
- The benefit to the parties is that there is clarity before the start of the process as to the terms of engagement and the mediator is obliged to give you details of their qualifications, training and experience, continuing professional development and the Code of Practice under which they are working. Interestingly it doesn’t require details of their insurance but you should check that they have professional indemnity insurance in place.
How to Select a Mediator
- To select your mediator select three possible Mediators on the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland database ( themii.ie ), contact them and ask them about:
- their qualifications
- their experience in the relevant field of mediation,
- their availability
- what they will charge
- If what they tell you is appropriate and if you feel confident having spoken to them and you like the sound of them then instruct them.
Read more about the Mediation Act
- Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Mediation Act Circular
- Mediation Institute of Ireland – Mediation Act 2017 Industrial Relations News
- Department of Justice and Equality