Mediation FAQ: How to solve a dispute

What is mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary process where parties in a dispute mutually agree to meet with a professional, impartial mediator. The mediator assists parties in finding ways to resolve a dispute. This helps them to work together towards an agreed solution.

What is the role of the mediator?

The main role of a mediator is to be impartial, treat all parties fairly and manage the mediation process. They facilitate parties to communicate effectively and consider the issues with a view of parties mutually agreeing an outcome. The Mediation Act 2017 governs all of our mediators. Additionally, the Mediators Institute of Irelands (MII) Code of Ethics and Practice binds our mediators.

Why choose mediation?

There is growth in the use of mediation services to resolve disputes, rather than going to court or arbitration. In court or arbitration, a third party decides the outcome based upon a presentation of the facts and law.

Benefits include:

  • Control: You have control over how you wish to resolve your dispute. A third party does not make any decisions.
  • Flexibility: You have more flexibility compared to court, which operates under strict rules.
  • Voluntary Process: It is a voluntary process. At any stage you, or indeed the mediator, can decide the session(s) are not productive and stop the process.
  • Confidential: Parties, including the mediator, agree not to disclose information arising in the session(s). Limits to confidentiality arise when required by law under section 10(2) of the Mediation Act 2017.
  • Speed: It can take a matter of hours or days to resolve a dispute, as opposed to months or even years.
  • Relationship Building: It helps parties to better understand each other. You can find avenues for resolution that you are both happy with.
  • Options:  If it fails, you can still explore other avenues to resolve your dispute such as the court process.
  • Cost: It is free.

What should I expect from a session?

You will need to be willing to work to resolve issues and to work through your difficulties. This means you should expect to discuss your position and try to listen to the other party too. Each party has an opportunity to voice concerns and to speak without interruption.

CLM uses a model of co-mediation. This involved two mediators in the mediation process. Mediation begins with the mediators meeting both parties separately. The mediators explain what mediation is, allowing each party time to talk about their issue(s) that need to be addressed. They also discuss what they would like to achieve through mediation. Once both parties agree to proceed, a further meeting is arranged and the process begins. At this point, parties will sign an agreement to mediate, which explains the ground rules for parties involved. Additionally, it outlines how and when the mediation process will be conducted.

Does the mediator decide for us?

The mediator does not decide for you. Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process where the mediator acts impartially to help the parties come to a resolution.  The mediator’s role is not to determine facts, make a judgement of law or otherwise impose their solution. Mediators work in a “non-directive” manner, facilitating better communication and understanding between the parties. They also help them explore possible solutions to their dispute. Additionally, they assist the parties in drawing-up a written agreement that states the terms and conditions upon which they have decided to resolve their dispute.

How long will the process take?

Often, mediation can be completed in a single or even two sessions. However, it all depends on the type of dispute, its complexity and the preparedness of the parties to seek to resolve their differences in a non-adversarial setting. Some disputes are mediated in a few hours, while others, like family disputes, often require several, sometimes shorter sessions spread out over a number of weeks. The most one can expect would be six sessions with the mediator to thoroughly resolve all issues.

What if we can’t agree?

Generally speaking, up to 80% of all cases submitted to mediation do settle. However, there are some that do not. If you fail to reach a conclusion, you still have the right to resort to court or arbitration if those avenues are available to you.

What is an interim mediation settlement?

Both parties prepare and agree to an interim mediation settlement when going through the mediation process. This interim mediation settlement is subject to change, and therefore, is not enforceable at this point.  Near the end of the mediation process, a final mediation settlement is drawn up.

What is a mediation settlement?

During the mediation process, the mediator works with the parties to help them develop a mediation settlement agreeable to them. There is significant emphasis on how parties will interact in the future if they have an ongoing relationship.

What happens after the settlement is drawn up?

After the settlement process, there are further steps in the mediation process. The mediator will ensure that the parties are aware of their rights to each obtain independent advice (including legal advice) prior to signing any mediation settlement.

What is the status of the settlement in law?

Only the parties to the mediation can decide if a mediation settlement has been reached between them and whether this is to be enforceable. Unless the parties agree that the mediation settlement has no legal force until it is included into a formal legal agreement or contract to be signed by the parties, it will act as a contract between parties, pursuant to Section 11 (2) of the 2017 Mediation Act 2017.

Once a mediation settlement is agreed either party can apply to the court to have the mediation settlement enforced. The court will do so unless there are any concerns that the mediation settlement does not comply with section 11(a)(b) of the Mediation Act 2017.

Is there any charge or cost?

CLM provides a free mediation service to the community. We offer all clients an opportunity to make a voluntary donation to the service when their mediation sessions. Each party in a mediation case is required to pay a ten euro refundable deposit unless there are exceptional circumstances for not doing so. This deposit is refunded to the party at the end of their case, unless they have cancelled their mediation session three times or has not given at least 24 hours’ notice to a single cancellation.

I am in a dispute with another party. How do I get in contact with your Mediation Service?

Contact our Mediation Service to find out further information. Our offices are in Northside Civic Centre, Bunratty Road, Coolock, Dublin 17. You can also call us on 01 8477804 or send an email to MediationAdmin@CommunityLawandMediation.ie

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Eviction Ban: Are you affected?

The Eviction Ban for Winter 2022/2023, which protected private renters from being evicted during the current cost-of-living and housing crises, has been lifted.

The effect of the Eviction Ban was to postpone the date upon which a tenant who had received a valid Notice of Termination had to leave their home. This meant that you didn’t have to leave your home for the duration of the Eviction Ban, even if you had received a valid Notice of Termination.

As the Eviction Ban has been lifted, the postponed termination dates are starting to take effect on a phased basis.

We set out below some information on your legal position if you have received a Notice of Termination.

When do I have to leave my home?

If you have been served with a valid Notice of Termination, you do not have to leave your home immediately.

The date upon which you have to leave your home (i.e. the termination date) depends on when you received the Notice of Termination and how long you have been in your home.

If your original termination date was between 30th October 2022 and 31st January 2023, your new termination date is as follows:

Duration of TenancyNew Termination Date
Less than 6 months1st May 2023
More than 6 months,
less than 1 year
1st May 2023
More than 1 year,
less than 7 years
15th April 2023
More than 7 years1st April 2023

If your original termination date was between 1st February 2023 and 31st March 2023, your new termination date is as follows:

Duration of TenancyNew Termination Date
Less than 6 months18th June 2023
More than 6 months,
less than 1 year
1st June 2023
More than 1 year,
less than 7 years
1st May 2023
More than 7 years1st April 2023

Is my Notice of Termination valid?

In order for a Notice of Termination to be valid, it must comply with the legal requirements as set out in the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.

A valid Notice of Termination must:

  1. Be copied to the RTB at the same time as it is served on the tenant. (From 6 July 2022, a Notice of Termination will be deemed invalid if the landlord does not send a copy to the RTB on the same day the notice is served to the tenant)   
  2. Be in writing (an email will not suffice).
  3. Be signed by the landlord or their authorised agent, as appropriate.
  4. Specify the date of service. This is the date the notice is posted, or hand delivered.
  5. State the grounds for termination (where the tenancy has lasted for more than 6 months or is a fixed term tenancy).
  6. Specify the termination date and also that the tenant has the whole of the 24 hours of this date to vacate possession.
  7. State that any issue as to the validity of the notice or the right of the landlord to serve it must be referred to the RTB within the time period permitted.  

Further information in relation to what a valid Notice of Termination looks like can be found here: Notices of Termination | Residential Tenancies Board (rtb.ie).

Can my landlord require me to leave my home immediately?

A landlord cannot require you to leave your home immediately. Furthermore, a landlord cannot physically remove you from your home, change the locks or cut off your electricity supply.

These are examples of illegal evictions. Further information in relation to illegal evictions can be found here: What is an illegal eviction? | Residential Tenancies Board (rtb.ie)

What should I do if I have received a Notice of Termination?

If you have received a Notice of Termination, you should check if the Notice of Termination is valid. If it is not valid, you may be able to challenge it in the RTB.

Since 6 July 2022, if a tenant has an issue with the validity of the Notice of Termination they have received, a tenant now has 90-days (from the receipt of the notice) to apply for Dispute Resolution with the RTB. This was increased from 28-days. 

If you are at risk of homelessness after receiving a Notice of Termination, you should contact your Local Authority.

Further help

  • FLAC
  • Mercy Community Law Centre
  • Ballymun Community Law Centre
  • Focus Ireland
  • Simon Community
  • Peter McVerry Trust