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Dispute Resolution Mechanisms

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Senator


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Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter)

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Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter)

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Snippet Contents:

An EU Directive to facilitate access to alternative dispute resolution and to promote the amicable settlement of disputes by encouraging the use of mediation was given effect in this jurisdiction in the European Communities (Mediation) Regulations 2011. In addition to the introduction of the Directive, it is my intention to bring forward, by the end of the year, a broadly-based Mediation Bill to promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings, thereby reducing legal costs and speeding up the resolution of disputes. The legislation, which is currently being drafted, will introduce an obligation on solicitors and barristers to advise any person wishing to commence court proceedings to consider mediation as a means of resolving a dispute before embarking on such proceedings. It will also provide that a court may, following the commencement of proceedings, on its own initiative invite parties to consider mediation and suspend the proceedings to facilitate the mediation process.
I should add that since 2010 Ireland has had a modern Arbitration Act – the Arbitration Act 2010 – which applies the Model Law on Arbitration to all arbitrations which take place within the State. The legislation incorporates key principles which are important to commercial arbitrations such as party autonomy and a court intervention system which is supportive of arbitration but which aims at minimal interference in the overall process.
In addition, the Deputy should note that, the following non-judicial alternatives for resolving disputes and settling issues are available within the court system:
Superior Courts
New rules to promote mediation and conciliation in proceedings in the Superior Courts have been in force since 2010. These rules provide for a mechanism similar to the type used extensively in the Commercial Court whereby a judge can order the parties to engage in an alternative dispute resolution process. The provisions specify that the refusal or failure without good reason of a party to participate in mediation or conciliation may be taken into account by the court when awarding costs. The aim of this measure is to minimise the cost of the proceedings and to ensure that the time and other resources of the court are employed optimally.
Family Law
A unique tripartite initiative involving the Courts Service, Legal Aid Board and the Family Mediation Service commenced in March 2011 in the Family Law Court in Dolphin House District Court. The project’s objective is to offer a more appropriate means of resolving certain family disputes through, in the first instance, offering mediation information to persons who have made contact with the Courts Service with a view to issuing proceedings in relation to access, custody or guardianship matters.
The Circuit Court in Dublin is facilitating mediation information sessions free of charge to parties in family law cases. This is provided by mediators from the Mediators Institute of Ireland, Friary Hall and the Family Mediation Service.
Civil Law
Callers to the Dublin Circuit and District Civil Court Office are encouraged to use the mediation process when seeking certain court remedies. The County Registrar may also refer cases from her court which she deems suitable for mediation. The initiative, supported by the Courts Service, involves three mediation services - South Dublin Mediation Service, Ballymun Mediation and Mediation Northside and is supported by the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland (MII). Disputes considered appropriate for mediation include boundary disputes, private prosecutions for breach of the peace, complaints about noise or nuisance and disputes between adult family members on questions of property.