The Mediation Bill, which was recently passed by the Dáil should substantially reduce the cost of settling farm disputes
The Mediation Bill, which was recently passed by the Dáil should substantially reduce the cost of settling farm disputes according to Victor Ryder who is a farmer in Newtowncashel and Chairman of Longford ICMSA.
He said that in the past where farm disputes could not be settled by the parties involved, the matter was resolved by court action, which he added was costly.
He says that mediation is the best way forward and offers a far better and lower cost alternative to dispute resolution particularly for family farm disputes.
Meanwhile, Ciaran Dolan, a qualified barrister who specialised in farming and agribusiness mediation, said the new law provides that a solicitor must advise a client to consider mediation as a means of resolving the dispute and provide the client with information on mediation.
“If a party refuses to engage in mediation this may reduce the amount of costs that would normally be awarded by the court,” he added.
“Some farm disputes can be difficult to resolve; if you are involved in a dispute that is proving difficult to settle, mediation may provide the best solution.
“In my experience family farm disputes, in addition to being costly, can take up an enormous amount of time and can dominate a person’s life for a long-time due to worry and concern.”
The industry now involves many personal and business relationships and as a result, disputes can arise.
“The majority of these are resolved by direct discussions and negotiations,” Mr Dolan continued, before pointing out that the ones that are ignored only become more difficult and costly to settle and usually result in permanent damage to relationships.
In mediation, a mediator assists the parties in resolving their dispute.
Mediation allows the parties to address their issues in a confidential and private way.
An agreement to mediate will be signed at the outset and the mediator will then meet with the parties, over the course of one day or in sessions over a number of days or weeks.
Solicitors or other advisors may attend mediation sessions if required.
If an agreement is reached, a mediation agreement will be signed and further steps may be required to make this agreement legally enforceable.
“The clear advantages of using mediation are that it leads to an early resolution and preserves personal or business relationships,” said Mr Dolan.
“Other advantages are the dispute is kept private unlike court action and is much less expensive than legal and Court action.
“Mediation has a high success rate with positive outcomes in excess of 80 percent.”