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06 March 2017 at 11:30 BST

Lawyers forced to suggest mediation to clients before court action

New legislation in Ireland designed to cut legal costs and speed up the process of dispute resolution will oblige lawyers to suggest mediation to clients before opting for court proceedings.

Leonid Andronov

The legislation – The Mediation Bill - introduced in the Irish parliament by Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, requires solicitors to give clients specific advice and information about available mediation services. The Minister also stated that the legislation would also apply to barristers ‘if and when in future they are permitted to issue proceedings directly on behalf of clients’. She explained that the Bill’s aim was 'to promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings, thereby reducing legal costs, speeding up the resolution of disputes and relieving the stress and acrimony which as we know often accompanies court proceedings’.

Statutory declaration

And, in efforts to ensure lawyers actualy do suggest mediation services, they will have to make a statutory declaration to the court that they discharged their duty under the legislation.

The Bill

The Bill provides for the development of a mediation council if, in the future, various bodies involved in mediation come together and satisfy the Minister that they can do the work of regulation.The legislation, however, will not apply to disputes in certain areas such as those covered by the Workplace Relations Commission, or matters under tax and customs legislation.


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