Mediation – A different way of resolving disputes.

Mediation can be used in many different types of disputes, not just family law problems.

This can be seen from practice in Ireland and the growing body of legislation that recognises the need for an alternative way of resolving disputes in this jurisdiction. Some of the areas in which methods of alternative dispute resolution are now being used are the following: Many commercial disputes are being resolved in this way, for example, contract disputes, disputes arising out of insolvency, franchising disputes, and, by virtue of the EU Directive on Certain Aspects of Mediation in Civil and Commercial Matters, which will become law in Ireland shortly, even international commercial disputes.

The Commercial Court often directs that parties attempt mediation before proceeding with a commercial case. Over two-thirds of these referrals are said to result in agreement, which represents a substantial cost and time saving to the parties concerned. Also, a resolution of this kind, where all parties have participated in finding a solution to the problem, will go a long way towards preserving ongoing business and professional relationships.

Private disputes can also be resolved in this way. Landlord and tenant, and other types of disputes related to property, such as right of way cases, adverse possession cases, and trespass cases for example, can be solved these methods. Similarly, employment disputes are often referred to alternative dispute resolution, both under equality legislation and by the Rights Commissioner and Employment Appeals Tribunal.

A new area for alternative dispute resolution is that relating to schools. Mediation is increasingly used to solve disputes between teachers, students, parents and Boards of Management, and furthermore, a number of schools in Ireland are currently participating is restorative practices training, which teaches the students and staff the techniques of dispute prevention and resolution. A number of pieces of legislation, in addition to those already in existence in the family law area, have enshrined the role of alternative dispute resolution in recent years.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2004, landlord and tenant disputes can now be resolved in this way. Similarly, under the Equality Act 2004, the Disability Act 2004 and the Medical Practitioners Act 2007, parties to disputes under these Acts can be directed to attempt alternative dispute resolution. One of the newer pieces of legislation in this area is the Enforcement of Court Orders Act 2009, which gives the judge the right to direct parties into alternative dispute resolution before a court case can proceed. The Multi-Unit Developments Bill, 2009, which applies to apartment buildings and some housing estates, also has similar provisions. Further legislation is currently being drafted, which is likely to make this method of resolving disputes applicable to many more disputes.

To return to the area of family law, Family Mediation Ireland can also assist you in such difficult disputes as those that might arise out of an inheritance situation, where beneficiaries are aggrieved, or children have taken an action under section 117 of the Succession Act 1965, on the basis that they were not adequately provided for.

A new area of family relationships that we work in is that of elder mediation, whereby we assist families in making short and long-term care decisions for the elderly, in consultation with all the relevant family members, including the older person themselves. Alternative dispute resolution has been shown to be extremely successful in this area and, as in so many other disputes, preserves and enhances the relationships between all those concerned. For more information on our services in relation to any of the areas discussed above please visit the contact us section of our website.