The general objective of the Mediation Bill 2017 is to promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings thereby reducing legal costs, speeding up the resolution of disputes and relieving the stress involved in court proceedings.
The proposed Bill will:
- introduce an obligation on solicitors and barristers to advise parties to disputes to consider utilising mediation as a means of resolving them and, where court proceedings are launched, requires parties to proceedings to confirm to the court that they have been so advised and have considered using mediation as a means of resolving the dispute;
- in family law cases, parties will be required to attend an information session on mediation;
- provide that a court may, on its own initiative or on the initiative of the parties, and following the commencement of proceedings, invite the parties to consider mediation as a means of resolving the dispute;
- provide for the suspension of court proceedings in such cases to facilitate the mediation process;
- contain general principles for the conduct of mediation by qualified mediators;
- provide that communications between parties during mediation shall be confidential;
- provide that the parties to the mediation determine among themselves the enforceability of any agreement reached during the mediation process;
- provide that the costs of mediation must be reasonable and proportionate and not linked to the outcome of the process;
- make specific provision for the involvement of children in mediation in family law disputes;
- provide for the introduction of codes of practice for the conduct of mediation by qualified mediators.