New court rules relating to mediation and conciliation became operative on Tuesday 16 November 2010 in line with recommendations from the Law Reform Commission. The rules provide that in all civil cases the parties or the court may seek to adjourn the dispute - for a reasonable period - to allow for the use of ADR to resolve the dispute. ADR is defined as meaning mediation, conciliation or any other dispute resolution process approved by the Court but it does not include arbitration. The courts now have express power to take account of any failure or refusal (without good reason) to engage in ADR when making costs orders.
Announcing the move, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern, T.D. noted that Mediation is increasingly recognised as 'a cost effective and timely means of resolving disputes', and noted the benefits to the parties involved and to the State in promoting the greater use of mediation and other ADR systems within the courts.
The new rules bring mediation as a process to centre stage in dispute resolution in Ireland and that is a very welcome development.