Amendments Nos. 28 to 31, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together. Deputy Madigan is not present so Deputy D'Arcy will move the amendment for her.
Mediation Bill 2017: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage
I move amendment Nos. 28:
In page 16, to delete lines 26 to 38, and in page 17, to delete lines 1 to 5.
I cannot accept amendment No. 28 in the name of my colleague, Deputy Madigan. It is appropriate where a court, under section 16, has invited parties to consider the use of mediation and the parties have accepted that invitation that the mediator should be required to provide a factual statement on the outcome of the mediation process to the court.
On Committee Stage, I agreed to reflect further on whether section 17(1)(b)(iii) should be retained. That provides that where no mediation settlement has been reached, the mediator's report back to the court should indicate whether, in the opinion of the mediator, the parties engaged fully in that mediation. It was pointed out on Committee Stage that this could impinge upon the independence of the mediator, the confidentiality of the mediation in some cases and the willingness of the parties or otherwise to invest in the process. Despite the existence of similar provisions in other legislation, I have formed the view that in this Bill, matters would be better served by the deletion of the provision, which is the purpose of amendments Nos. 29 to 31, inclusive.
I move amendment No. 29:
In page 16, line 35, to delete “proceedings,” and substitute “proceedings, and”.
I move amendment No. 30:
In page 16, to delete line 38 and substitute “settlement.”.
I move amendment No. 31:
In page 17, to delete lines 1 and 2.
Amendment No. 33 does not arise from Committee Stage proceedings and is out of order. Amendment No. 34 is also out of order.
I and the Government appreciate the constructive engagement on this Bill, which has received detailed consideration in the House. This legislation is part of the Government's strategy to promote mediation as an effective alternative to adversarial and often lengthy and expensive court proceedings. Apart from more effective outcomes and reduced recourse to the courts, it will also help to reduce the legal costs for everybody involved. Following the enactment of the legislation I intend to seek the views of mediation bodies on whether there is already a sufficiently advanced draft code of practice for approval under section 9(1)(b). It is understood that the Mediators' Institute of Ireland has sought input from across the mediation sector with a view to finalising a code that will cover many of the matters outlined in section 9(2). There is reason to believe that significant progress can be made on putting a comprehensive code into practice later this year. I acknowledge the debate we had on this issue.
I thank Members for their contributions and I look forward to the early operation of this important Bill.