Lawyer Monthly - October 2022

Do you have any predictions for how this area of law will develop in the years to come? Elder mediation is a growing practice area. In most countries, mediation – including elder mediation – is now seen as a more human approach to solving conflicts, and which is clearly easing a general overload of litigation. Judges are recommending mediation at the beginning of the litigation process and solicitors are required by law to advise clients to consider mediation to resolve the dispute. While some US states do recommend mediation, other states are now mandating a form of alternative dispute resolution prior to any form of litigation (from my own experience, South Carolina requires this for the circuit and family courts). I expect this empowering approach to soon spread globally because of its incontestable benefits. Ideally, people will soon prefer mediation due to its successful human approach and will even recommend it. There is no better advertisement than a happy customer. end abruptly and suddenly at any given point during the lengthy and ongoing mediation operation if one party leaves or refuses to cooperate any further. This can generate frustration and a deep sense of abandonment that can worsen the conflict. Meanwhile, mediators need to be aware of their impartial role. Human nature tends to be generally subjective and a mediator might find themselves sympathising with one party to the detriment of the other. This is even more likely when one of the parties is an elder, as one tends to favour the more vulnerable side. The mediator must keep their objectiveness in check at all times and at all costs. How have you witnessed the practice of elder mediation changing during your time in the sector? My personal journey as a mediator started at the end of 2017. Although mediation had been a part of the general framework governing separations and divorces in Ireland since 1989, it was only in 2017 when mediation was given special recognition in Ireland’s civil justice system by the Mediation Act, enacted on 2 October 2017 and applied from 1 January 2018. This act states the obligation of being offered the possibility of using mediation as a resolution for a dispute, while also regulating its process and features. I consider myself lucky to be part of the first generation of mediators trained within this statute. Due to the high rate of success (somewhere between 75% and 90%) I could witness how mediation’s popularity increased and started being used in different areas, including elder mediation. Due to the vulnerable nature of the subject, the elderly need to be heard, understood and empowered to choose the outcome of the conflict they are part of. Mediation is the enabling process that does exactly that. Human nature tends to be generally subjective and a mediator might find themselves sympathising with one party to the detriment of the other. 28 LAWYERMONTHLYOCTOBER 2022

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