Mediation in Ireland

Mediation is a structured process by which an independent, neutral party, the Mediator, facilitates the parties in a dispute to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to the difficulties that have arisen between them.
The Mediator does not have any power to compel the parties to take a particular course of action, nor can the Mediator impose a solution on the parties.

Crucially, Mediation is completely confidential. It is a genuine alternative to existing Dispute Resolution mechanisms, such as the court system. Unlike the court system, where a solution is imposed upon the parties, in mediation, the participants determine the terms of the agreement between them, rather than the court or tribunal making a finding.
Of course, not all disputes end up in the court system. Many disagreements can continue for years, because neither party wishes to take the matter to court, but also because neither party can see an alternative method of resolving their differences. Mediation offers a practical, workable and inexpensive solution to this predicament.

  • Mediation is a voluntary process – all participants are free to enter or leave the process at any time.
  • Mediation attempts to find an agreement between the parties that is acceptable to both of them, in a practical sense. This is particularly suitable where the parties have a disagreement but need to continue to work or interact with each other. Mediation provides the opportunity to not only resolve the issues, but to also help repair a possibly damaged relationship.
  • Mediation is a process that respects both parties equally. No one party can dictate a solution to the other party. Any agreement must be acceptable to both parties – the Mediator facilitates the parties to arrive at this point.
  • Mediation is a confidential process where what is discussed in the mediation stays in the mediation. There are no outside observers and no record of the process is kept. All that may be communicated to anyone else is the agreement reached – but only if the participants to the mediation process wish this to be done.
  • The Mediator acts as an impartial, neutral and balanced facilitator. The mediator cannot favour the interests of one participant over others nor can they favour any particular outcome. The mediator’s role is to ensure that the participants reach agreements in a voluntary, informed manner and not as a result of coercion or intimidation.
  • Because the participants have been actively and voluntarily engaged in resolving the dispute they are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome. In essence, a mediated solution is a solution owned by the parties themselves – it is unique to them, it is tailored by them, and it is a solution they reached themselves.

Benefits of Mediation
Because Mediation is a confidential process between two parties and a Mediator, the costs are dramatically less than traditional legal forms of dispute resolution such as courts. Mediation is generally much quicker than the adversarial court system. Courts are very busy, and it can take a long time for a case to be heard. As long as both parties commit to enter the process of Mediation, progress can often be quick and permanent. A mediated solution allows people to deal with the issues, resolve them, and move on with their lives. Because the parties to mediation draw up their own agreement, they are far more likely to keep to any agreement reached between them. The parties are also far more likely to be satisfied with any agreement reached – as opposed to having one imposed on them by another body.

Mediated agreements can cover procedural problems, but can also go deeper to address the underlying emotional or psychological issues that contribute to the problems in the first place. In a legal setting, a solution is imposed based on law – mediation attempts to resolve issues by dialogue, agreement, and understanding.
In addition to resolving issues and repairing relationships, mediation is also a very desirable method of ensuring the ending of a relationship is conducted in a non-adversarial and destructive manner.
A mediated agreement is more likely to be upheld over time and if there is a subsequent conflict participants are more likely to engage in a problem-solving approach to resolving their differences.

Where is Mediation Used?
Mediation can be used in many situations – in fact anywhere there is a disagreement that needs to be resolved. Some examples are:

  • In the workplace – disputes between co-workers or between workers and supervisors or management.
  • Within the family or extended family.
  • Separation or Divorce. Mediation is ideal for couples who have decided to separate or divorce. It is a practical and sensible method of agreeing division of assets, children access and other practical issues.
  • Within the Community – local groups or organisations, either internally, or with other bodies.
  • Mediation between neighbours over issues that have arisen.

Remember – Mediation is a quick, inexpensive and lasting solution that is owned by the parties to the dispute. Don’t continue to be part of the problem – become part of the solution by engaging in the process of mediation.