March 6, 2010
CAROL COULTER Legal Affairs Editor
UP TO €200 million could ultimately be saved by the use of mediation instead of litigation by State bodies , according to a study of the State’s legal spend.
The study was conducted by Michael Gorman of the legal training organisation, Friarylaw, and the results were presented to a symposium on mediation it organised in Trinity College yesterday.
Mr Gorman took as his starting point the recommendation in the McCarthy report that there should be compulsory mediation of legal disputes involving State bodies. He undertook an audit of public body legal spend, based on 437 Freedom of Information requests, and examined the results in the light of a programme in the US state of Oregon which used mediation instead of litigation in disputes involving the state. This model demonstrated savings of up to 85 per cent of litigation costs.
Applying this to Irish cases, he pointed out that legal costs in the Army deafness cases amounted to €97.9 million, a third of the total cost of €285 million. Using mediation that could have been drastically cut to five per cent, he said.
In the State Claims Agency, legal spend represented 36 per cent of the total paid out in 2008. This could be reduced to six per cent if mediation was used.
Mr Gorman said the Freedom of Information feedback indicated a current Irish public body legal spend of €300 million a year associated with litigation and/or adjudications. It was possible to achieve savings of approximately €100 million, or 33 per cent, in the short to medium term, and further savings of an additional €100 million in the longer term with the design and implementation of customised early dispute management and mediation dispute resolution processes.
Anne Colley, chairwoman of the Legal Board, said the board could be crucial in moving alternative dispute resolution in family law disputes into the mainstream.
Studies had shown that mediation was used in only three per cent of family law disputes and, in Ireland, there was no obligation on people to even attend information sessions about mediation before embarking on litigation.
This was not suitable to the resolution of family law disputes, and the board was committed to promoting mediation, structured negotiation or “common or garden” negotiation as means of resolving these disputes.
There was enormous scope for the development of the Family Mediation Service in a way that was more integrated into the legal system it was designed to assist, she said. A synergy existed between the work of the Legal Aid Board and the Family Mediation Service.
If you have a client or know someone who may benefit from the Mediation Services that we provide please contact, Mark Small on 087-2268394 to discuss your requirements or organize a mediation.
For more information on our mediation services CLICK HERE
Mediation Advocacy Training
Mediate Ireland provides training programs to anybody involved in the Mediation Process. One of our most popular programs is “An introduction to Mediation Advocacy”, which is specifically for professionals who represent their clients at a mediation. This is a afternoon program (6 CPD hrs are available) which runs regularly throughout the year.
For more information on our training programs CLICK HERE