Substantially increasing awareness of the mediation process is necessary for The New Mediation Bill 2012 to be effective, says Justice Committee ReportDate: June 23rd, 2012 | Filed under: Blog | Tags: "Construction Contracts Act 2012", "Mediation Act 2012"
Raising awareness of mediation inIrelandis essential and it must be distinguished from other ADR processes such as arbitration, adjudication or conciliation according to a new report on the Mediation Bill by the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality.
As part of hearings in relation to the Scheme of the Mediation Bill 2012, the Committee was told that that awareness inIreland of mediation and its benefits was very low generally and needed to be addressed if the legislation is to be as effective as possible.
David Stanton, TD, Chairman of the Joint Committee, said:
“Society needs to be informed of the potential benefits of mediation in dispute resolution and that it is not always necessary for disputes to be resolved through litigation. It is clear from the excellent submissions made and the informative and open interactions during the public hearing process entered into by the justice committee that mediation should be viewed as an empowering process for those involved in a dispute.”
The Committee received submissions on the Heads of the Mediation Bill 2012 and held public hearings to examine in further detail some of the main points raised.
Among the report’s key observations are:
• The absence of any regulation of mediation practice is one of the main concerns. The Committee was reminded that very often mediators deal with very vulnerable people who are under enormous stress and it is vital that protections are in place for all clients.
• It was submitted to the Committee that it would be desirable to have an umbrella group that would ensure all mediators would be subject to a disciplinary and grievance procedure.
• It was submitted that it be mandatory for all mediators to publish a Code of Conduct under which they practice.
• A clear Code of Conduct would allow clients to be informed throughout the mediation process, what the process is aiming to achieve and what it is not aiming to achieve.
• The Committee was also told that inIrelandthe general public cannot access a single list or register of mediators allowing any person to put up a sign and call themselves a mediator
• Confidentiality is seen as the cornerstone to successful mediation. It was put to the Committee that the integrity and success of mediation relies on the confidence the parties have that everything discussed in mediation will be, within reason, completely confidential.
The committee was told that awareness of the mediation process is more important now because “…. The courts will have power to direct parties to attend mediation information sessions on first application after they’ve issued proceedings.”
Section 4 of the draft Mediation Bill provides that solicitors must, prior to commencing civil proceedings on behalf of a client, advise the client to consider using mediation; and also requires that the solicitor must provide the client with information concerning mediation services. It seems probable that some form of mandatory information sessions for litigants may be included in the Mediation Bill.
The Committee has now recommended that the Minister for Justice and Equality give consideration to these issues raised here in his final drafting of the Mediation Bill 2012
The Opportunities for Mediation, Ireland-Centre for International Mediation
The Committee was also told that given our stance on neutrality and language,Irelandwould be a perfect place for international dispute resolution. It appears the Mediation Bill has attracted attention internationally because it is very advanced compared to what applies in other jurisdictions. The Committee said it may be a lost opportunity not to make the provisions of the new Mediation Bill applicable to international mediation that takes place inIrelandas people would be attracted to come toIrelandbecause we would have this protection in place.
The Construction Contracts Bill 2010
It appears that this new Adjudication Bill has finished second stage in the Dail on Wednesday 21st June and appears to be on its way to Committee Stage in the Dail when hopefully we will get to see the latest amendments and the significant changes that the Minister has tabled. It then may well be enacted in July 2012 bringing brand new solutions to subcontractors faced with payment difficulties