15. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the mediation Bill 2012 will be introduced in Dáil Éireann. [6983/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The objective of the Mediation Bill, which is fully in line with the commitment given in the Programme for Government, 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 Bill will provide that a solicitor or barrister advising or acting for a client must, prior to the commencement of any civil proceedings, including family law proceedings, provide the client with information about mediation as an alternative means of resolving disputes, details of bodies or individuals providing mediation services and an estimate of the costs likely to arise in the event of legal proceedings. It also provides that following commencement of any such proceedings, a court may on the application of a party, or of its own motion where it considers it appropriate, suspend proceedings in order to facilitate mediation.
The Government approved the General Scheme of the Bill in March 2012 and the Mediation Bill is being drafted in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. The Deputy will appreciate that the Government has a demanding schedule of urgent legislation at present and for that reason it is not possible to give a specific date for publication of the Bill at this stage. However, it is my intention to proceed quickly with enactment of the legislation following publication of the Bill later this year.