After the hugely encouraging incentive for ADR within the new Commercial Hub and the associated Practice Direction, there is more good news from the Northern Ireland High Court.
In the recent decision of McCloskey J, In The Matter of an Application by Rose Edmunds for Judicial Review  NIQB 50, the Court held that “ADR in an intra–litigation context is capable of falling within the embrace of an assisted litigant’s civil aid certificate”.
In other words, a legal aid certificate can (and should) cover mediation costs.
Prior permission should still be sought from the Legal Services Agency (LSA), but the previous approach must now be considered to be “not fit for purpose” in modern litigation. The decision under challenge in the aforementioned proceedings was considered by the Judge to be “expressed pithily” and was as follows:
“I confirm that Civil Legal Aid is not available for mediation.”
LSA’s argument that Mediation was an alternative means of dispute resolution which exists outside of court proceedings and may examine wider issues than the proceedings themselves, was rejected.
The Judge referred to Mediation as the principal form of ADR and said that it was ”once a newcomer”, but now “an experienced member of the civil litigation club”.
As staggering as this approach from LSA will seem to those of us who have embraced ADR, it is a welcome and progressive decision of the NI High Court that should herald exciting times ahead for Mediators and Lawyers.
For Plaintiffs, Defendants, Applicants and Respondents it is of course even better news. More access to a lower cost, confidential, less confrontational and quicker way to resolve the disputes.
By Michael Bready BL, click here to view original article.