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New Court Rules to Promote Mediation and Conciliation in Proceedings in the Superior Courts
Mediation is increasingly being used as a cost-effective means of resolving disputes. According to the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern TD, parties are often more satisfied with solutions that have been mutually agreed, rather than a solution imposed by a third party. The Minister has introduced new court rules to promote mediation and conciliation in proceedings in the Superior Courts, which came into operation on 16 November 2010. A copy of the new Rules can be found by clicking here.
The purpose of the rules is to minimise the cost of the proceedings and ensure that the time and resources of the court are used effectively. It is intended that they will complement section 32 of the Arbitration Act 2010, introduced earlier this year, which facilitates recourse to arbitration in disputes already the subject of litigation.
The rules, which were introduced following recommendations made by the Law Reform Commission ("LRC"), will allow a judge to order parties to proceedings to engage in Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”). If a party fails or refuses without good reason to participate in mediation or conciliation, this may be taken into account by the court when awarding costs.
In introducing the measures Minister Ahern stated that those who have reached agreement through mediation will generally be more likely to follow through and comply with its terms. He believes that, in promoting the greater use of mediation and other ADR systems within the courts as an alternative to litigation in appropriate circumstances, both the State and the parties involved will begin to see real benefits. A draft Mediation and and Conciliation Bill has been drafted and included in the LRC's Report on Alternative Dispute Resolution; Mediation and Consoliation.