Thursday, 26 February 2004

Questions (86)

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

84 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has proposals for legislative change to support the mediation process as a method of dispute resolution. [6165/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

The Civil Liability and Courts Bill, which I published recently, contains provisions relating to mediation in personal injuries actions. The Bill provides that a court may direct that parties to a personal injuries action meet in a mediation conference, with an independent chairperson, to discuss and attempt to settle the action. Where a party fails to comply with a direction to take part in the mediation, the Bill provides that the court may direct that party to pay costs incurred after the giving of the direction.

The Rules of the Superior Courts (Commercial Proceedings) 2004, made by the superior courts rules committee with my concurrence, have provision for mediation, conciliation or arbitration in commercial proceedings. The rules apply generally to claims, other than claims for damages for personal injuries, with a value of at least €1,000,000.

The second programme of the Law Reform Commission, approved by Government, includes alternative dispute resolution, ADR, among the topics which will be examined by the commission. I look forward to the outcome of this work in due course.

At European level, in April 2002, the European Commission produced a Green Paper on ADR in Civil and Commercial Law. This was with the objective of launching a broad consultation process as to how best to promote ADR. It is understood that the Commission may present a proposal for a legislative instrument on ADR before the end of this year but there is no information available as to the likely content of such a proposal.