The Mediation Bill 2017 was passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas and enacted on October 2 2017. On December 13 2017 the minister signed the commencement order of the Mediation Act 2017 and all sections were commenced as of January 1 2018.
The act's objective is to further promote mediation as an attractive alternative to court proceedings, in terms of time, cost, resources and the avoidance of acrimony. Although mediation may not be suitable for all disputes, the act provides a platform for parties to resolve their difficulties without commencing litigation where appropriate (albeit certain classes of case are excluded from its scope).
The key provisions of the act include the following:
The introduction of an obligation on practitioners to advise their clients to consider mediation as an alternative to court proceedings. Should a client elect not to proceed to mediation before litigating, a solicitor must give a statutory declaration confirming that the client has been advised as to the option of mediation. Proceedings may be stayed where this statutory declaration has not been provided. Practitioners and clients should be mindful of these obligations imposed under Section 14 of the act. Provision for a statutory power permitting a court, on its own initiative or the initiative of one of the parties, to invite the parties to consider mediation and provide for the suspension of court proceedings to facilitate the process (although this was already provided for under Order 56A of the Rules of the Superior Courts). Before the commencement of mediation, the parties...