The Mediation Bill 2017

The Mediation Bill (the Bill) was published on the 13th February 2017 by the Minister for Justice and Equality.
The Bill incorporates many of the recommendations made by the Law Reform Commission in its 2010 report “Alternative Dispute Resolution: Mediation and Conciliation”.
The Bill aims to promote the use of mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings leading to the faster resolution of disputes, a reduction in legal costs and relieving the stress that can accompany legal proceedings.
The Bill contains a number of key provisions which if enacted will likely lead to a significant increase in the number of parties using mediation.
Under sections 14 and 15 of the Bill, solicitors and barristers have a statutory obligation to advise their clients to consider mediation as an alternative to court proceedings. They are required to provide clients with detailed information on mediation services including the names and addresses of accredited mediators, information regarding confidentiality, the enforceability of mediation settlements and the benefits of mediation.
If the client decides not to engage in the mediation process then their legal advisor must swear a statutory declaration confirming that the obligation has been complied with. This must be submitted when initiating court proceedings.
Part 4 of the Bill contains provisions in respect of court proceedings that have already been initiated to include the possible adjournment of those proceedings to allow for mediation.
Under section 21, a Court may take into account when awarding costs, any refusal or failure by a party to consider or attend mediation.
The Bill is currently before Dáil Éireann at the committee stage.