Friday 23 February 2018

Top judge pushes for mediation instead of litigation

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

THE Chief Justice has appealed to the Government to promote mediation as an alternative to costly court litigation.

Mr Justice John Murray said such a move would generate social and economic savings.

The Chief Justice, speaking last night at the launch of the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association's (DSBA) family lawyer mediation service, said that the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform could and should promote mediation for the benefit of society as a whole.

"It is a governmental task," said Judge Murray, who also revealed that new rules were being considered that would enable judges to facilitate mediation in all forms of civil disputes that came before the courts following the success of mediation in the Commercial Court and in competition law.

"It (mediation) is in a sense an antidote to a too casual recourse to litigation not only as a first but as the only option," he said, adding that there was a saving for society both in terms of legal costs and in reducing the burden of costly courts systems.

"For mediation as a process to take hold in this country there is a need to heighten public consciousness as well as that of legal practitioners and other professions of its usefulness, its value and its availability," he said.

The DSBA has urged that mediation, part of a broader alternative dispute resolution movement that has gained traction in the US, Canada, Europe and Britain, should be utilised in family law proceedings to maintain a positive parenting dynamic, post-separation.

Jennifer O'Brien, a solicitor and mediator with solicitors Mason Hayes and Curran, said that family lawyers had to ask if the family law system served the needs of parents and their children who were affected by the breakdown of a relationship.

"Once the [legal] writ is out, it is very difficult to pull back" from the adoption of an adversarial stance, she said.

Irish Independent

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