David Stanton, Fine Gael TD for Cork East and Chairperson of the Oireachtas Justice Committee launched a report on upcoming mediation legislation last week. The report was produced by the Justice Committee following hearings on the new Mediation Bill.
The report highlighted the need to raise awareness of the mediation process and that this form of dispute resolution must be distinguished from other approaches such as arbitration.
As part of hearings in relation to the Scheme of the Mediation Bill, the Committee was told that that awareness of mediation and its benefits was very low generally and needed to be addressed if the legislation is to be as effective as possible.
Chairman of the Committee, Deputy David Stanton 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 a total of 16 submissions on the Heads of the Mediation Bill and held public hearings on the 9th and 23rd of May to examine in further detail some of the main points raised.
The report can be accessed at http://bit.ly/PyJMYv and its key observations are:
• Concern as to the lack of regulation of mediation at present. Mediators often deal with very vulnerable people and it is vital to have protections in place for clients.
• Member of the public should have access to a list of professional mediators
• Mediators should have some form of regulatory body to ensure they are subject to disciplinary or grievance procedure.
• Mediators should all publish a Code of Conduct under which they practice which would allow clients to be more informed as to the mediation process.
• Confidentiality is seen as the cornerstone to successful mediation. It is essential that clients are aware that matters discussed at mediation are completely confidential.
Deputy Stanton concluded: “This is the sixth time that the Committee has undertaken a process of conducting hearings into upcoming legislation which is aimed at producing better, more effective, legislation. I am pleased by the very positive response from stakeholders and the public and would like to express my thanks to all those who took part in this process, including the members of the Justice Committee. I look forward to the publication of the Bill and further engagement with the Minister as the Bill progresses through the Houses.