Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011

54.

Amendment of Civil Legal Aid Act 1995.

54.— With effect from the coming into operation of section 50 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011, the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 is amended:

( a) in section 1, by the insertion of the following definition:

“‘family mediation services’ means services designed to assist persons involved in the process of seeking—

(i) a separation,

(ii) a divorce,

(iii) a dissolution of a civil partnership,

(iv) payment of maintenance,

(v) an order of a court or an agreement relating to guardianship or custody of a child, or to parental access to a child,

to reach agreement relating to some or all of such matters as relate to the persons concerned;”,

( b) in section 5, by the substitution of the following for subsection (1):

“(1) The principal functions of the Board shall be:

( a) to provide, within the Board’s resources and subject to the other provisions of this Act—

(i) legal aid and advice in civil cases to persons who satisfy the requirements of this Act, and

(ii) a family mediation service;

( b) where the Board considers it necessary or expedient to do so to make arrangements for the provision of—

(i) family mediation services on its behalf by the engagement of persons appointed by it for that purpose, and

(ii) training in family mediation, either by itself or by persons appointed by it for that purpose.”,

( c) by the insertion, after section 11, of the following section:

“Appointment of persons to provide family mediation services or training in relation to such services.

11A.— (1) The Board may appoint persons who it considers to be qualified by reason of training and experience, to provide family mediation services on its behalf or to provide training in family mediation.

(2) A person appointed pursuant to subsection (1) shall not be an officer or member of the staff of the Board.

(3) A person appointed by the Board pursuant to subsection (1) shall be appointed subject to such terms and conditions as may be determined by the Minister and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

(4) Subsection (2) shall not be construed as preventing the Board appointing a person as an officer or member of the staff of the Board in relation to the provision of a family mediation service by the Board.”,

( d) by the insertion, after section 36, of the following sections:

“Confidentiality of information disclosed in course of family mediation.

36A.— (1) Any communication (including any record of such communication) between any of the parties to a family mediation provided by the Board or provided by other persons appointed for that purpose by the Board under this Act, and a third party, including a mediator, for the purposes of attempting to reach agreement relating to such of the following matters as relate to the parties to the mediation—

( a) a separation,

( b) a divorce,

( c) a dissolution of a civil partnership,

( d) payment of maintenance,

( e) an order of a court or an agreement relating to guardianship or custody of a child, or to parental access to a child,

shall not be disclosed and shall not be admissible as evidence in any court.

(2) Subsection (1) is in addition to and not in substitution for any other statutory provision.

(3) Nothing in this section shall prevent a party who is engaged in or who engaged in a family mediation communicating the progress made in that mediation to his or her solicitor and obtaining legal advice in relation to the matters the subject of the mediation.

Guidelines relating to confidentiality of family mediation.

36B.— (1) The Board shall, with the consent of the Minister, make guidelines with the objective of preventing the disclosure of communications referred to in section 36A.

(2) Guidelines made under subsection (1) shall include provisions relating to—

( a) the utilisation of premises for the purposes of family mediation services other than the premises where the solicitor of the Board is usually located who is acting for a person who has been issued with a legal aid certificate under section 29 and who is a party to a family mediation provided by the Board or a person appointed by it, and

( b) the regular training of staff and officers of the Board and of persons appointed by the Board to provide family mediation services regarding the need to maintain confidentiality of communications made in connection with a family mediation.”,

and

( e) in section 37—

(i) by the insertion in subsection (2), after paragraph ( f), of the following paragraphs:

“( fa) make provision as to the conditions relating to the provision of family mediation services by the Board;

( fb) prescribe fees or charges which may be charged by the Board in relation to the provision of family mediation services, which regulations may prescribe different fees or charges in relation to different classes of persons or different classes of cases;”,

and

(ii) by the insertion after subsection (2) of the following subsection:

“(3) Regulations made pursuant to subsection (2)( fb) shall not prescribe fees or charges in relation to the provision of family mediation services where the parties to the mediation had agreed to enter such mediation before the coming into operation of section 50 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011.”.