Creeping compulsion to mediate, the Constitution and the Convention
The court backlog in some European countries has inspired the introduction of compulsory mediation schemes to deal with various commercial claims. The article reviews the developing jurisprudence from various courts throughout Europe, to assess the seemingly relentless public policy move towards compulsory mediation and the implications that this has for commercial parties in dispute, lawyers involved in the process and the administration of justice in Europe. The potential that such an approach could amount to a violation of the rights guaranteed by Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights, as enshrined within the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003, and Article 40.3 of the Irish Constitution is analysed. The article ultimately discusses the optimal approach for the courts and the legislature to follow to strike the appropriate balance between strong encouragement and coercive compulsion that would avoid offending constitutional and Convention rights and foster a mediation culture.