Farm family disputes: Mediation ‘a better alternative’ than legal route

Mediation has been described as “a better alternative” to dealing with farm family disputes rather than taking the legal route.

This is the view held by the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland’s (MII’s) agriculture sector liaison officer, Pat Finn.

Commenting on the matter, he said: “The legal route to dispute resolution is costly and the issue may be heard in public.

Furthermore, this process invariably leads to fractured personal relationships or loss of business relationships.

“Mediation offers a far better confidential alternative, particularly for family farm disputes – whether they be within family or external business disputes.”

Finn – who also owns and runs an auctioneering business in east Co. Galway – explained that MII had a stand at the National Ploughing Championships for the very first time in order to inform farmers how mediation could deliver for them.

National mediation service

The MII is also part of a new national mediation service that was launched recently in partnership with the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

According to Sabine Walsh, the president of the MII, the institute has been promoting mediation in the agriculture sector over recent years. It also reportedly has a list of accredited mediators who have knowledge and experience in the farming and agri-business sectors.

“The recent commencement of the new Mediation Act is official recognition by the state of the contribution mediation will make to the improvement of dispute resolution systems in Ireland.

“These benefits are now available to those living on family farms and working in agriculture. The act makes mediation even more robust and reliable.

As a result, parties involved in a dispute are more likely to opt for mediation before heading into court – particularly as solicitors will now advise their clients to consider mediation.

“The MII has been developing mediation in agriculture as a specialist sector over recent years and now has a designated farming and agri-business section of trained accredited mediators – with expert knowledge and extensive experience of the farming and agri-business sector,” Walsh said.