Mediation & Conciliation
The Bar of Ireland and Law Society promote the benefits of dispute resolution through the mediation and conciliation process as an alternative to litigation. The Law Reform Commission recommends that conciliation be defined in legislation as “an advisory and confidential structured process in which an independent third party, called a conciliator, actively assists the parties in their attempt to reach, on a voluntary basis, a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve their dispute.” The Construction Bar Association (CBA) recognises that the benefits of mediation and conciliation are particularly applicable in the context of construction disputes.
Many standard form construction contracts (including those of RIAI, IEI, CIF and SCS) provide for resolution of disputes by arbitration and conciliation and the vast majority of construction contract disputes are settled at this stage of the process. On balance, these ADR processes tend to be cheaper and timelier. This is detailed in the Law Reform Commission report of 2010 entitled Alternative Dispute Resolution: Mediation and Conciliation. According to John Tarlow of the American College of Construction Lawyers: “ Mediation allows the business executive to minimize legal costs, control the decision-making process, avoid most of the emotional stress, maintain business relationships, and provides the most rapid process for full and final resolution of disputes.”
The Mediation Act 2017 encourages parties to settle their disputes at mediation. While the act does not apply to arbitrations within the meaning of the Arbitration Act 2010, but experience has proven that mediations can often assist in resolving disputes during the arbitral process and thereby avoid incurring the full cost and delay of a possible arbitral hearing.
The CBA is an association of specialist barristers and solicitors that offer expert, experienced and trained mediators and advocates to parties to construction disputes.