Archive for the ‘Mediation’ Category

A cheaper way of resolving disputes away from courts

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Regarding John Shirley’s article concerning exorbitant fees on page four of the Farming Independent of June 28, other problems can also beset litigation in the courts.

These include delay, lack of control by the parties, lack of availability of judges and uncertainty of outcome, not to mention the publicity and the stress on the parties.

There is an alternative and vastly cheaper means of dispute resolution known as alternative dispute resolution or ADR.

There are various types of ADR, including mediation.

While it’s not possible to outline all aspects of mediation in a short description, basically, it can be said that the mediator, who is generally specially trained and accredited and will be completely impartial, informs the parties of the process and organises a neutral venue agreeable to the parties with comfortable rooms for each side.

On the day, the mediator moves between the rooms and generally nudges each side towards resolution — only bringing such information from one side to the other as he or she is strictly authorised to do.

A stage is generally reached when the parties are brought together in one room with the mediator to iron out final details.

The whole procedure is completely voluntary, confidential, private and without prejudice and either side is completely free to leave if and whenever they wish.

The ground rules are sorted in advance in a written agreement to mediate. Contrary to the court process, the parties are in charge of the mediation process.

Nothing arising out of the mediation is binding until such time as a resolution is arrived at, committed to writing and signed. In most cases, it is vital that the parties would have independent legal advice before actually signing the mediation agreement.

The mediator is not an adviser or a judge and does not make decisions binding on the parties.

Most mediations are completed in a day – though often a long day.

The process is widely used in disputes involving wills, succession, the workplace, debts, title to property, neighbours, landlord and tenant, business and partnership problems and so on.

An apology is possible without compromising the legal position of the person giving it.

The cost of the mediator for the day, and for the necessary work beforehand, which might be around a few thousand euro (as opposed to possibly hundreds of thousands in the court process) is divided between the parties.

Furthermore, a consequence of the resolution is often the resumption of good relationships between the parties.

Actually, the process is very useful also at the stage where there is just a disagreement or even different viewpoints, as opposed to a dispute as such. In general, as you can imagine, the sooner the process is engaged in, the better.

For the process to work, both sides have to want it to work.

The process is being actively encouraged by both judges and the Government as a means of cutting costs to the State — as well as being of great benefit to society generally.

Oliver Ryan-Purcell is an accredited mediator and consultant solicitor. He recently joined the new mediation division of the Co Tipperary-based Rea Group consultants

- Oliver Ryan-Purcell

Mediation cuts dispute resolution costs, says Chief Justice

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Irish Times, September 16 2010

CAROL COULTER Legal Affairs Editor

LEGAL AID BOARD CONFERENCE: THE GOVERNMENT should foster and promote a professional mediation service and alter the perception of the courts as the first and only resort for dispute resolution, the Chief Justice has said.

Mr Justice John Murray told the 30th anniversary conference of the Legal Aid Board that this would not require major expenditure, and would reduce the overall cost of dispute resolution.

He said it was particularly appropriate in family law given that litigation can exacerbate the existing difficulties arising from a breakdown in family relationships.

“Given the State’s recognition of the family as a social unit of fundamental importance in society, it is essential that it ensures that there are systems and resources in place to address and resolve the serious issues to which family breakdowns so often give rise,” he said. “Mediation in particular is a vital tool in addressing family disputes, particularly where the welfare and future of children is at stake.”

He pointed to UK research showing the cost in legal aid fees of mediating family disputes was half that of litigating them. Given the pressure on Legal Aid Board and court resources, the need to encourage and invest in use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as a primary option for citizens where it can be effective has never been more pressing, he said.

Yet mediation and other forms of ADR remain on the margins of family law and civil law generally, and this would continue unless the State began to foster a culture of ADR with vigour and purpose.

President McAleese also urged greater use of ADR to resolve legal issues in a more humane way.

Legal Aid Board chairwoman Anne Colley said the cost associated with providing legal aid could be more than offset by its prevention of further problems that imposed a heavier cost on society.

She pointed to research in other jurisdictions which showed the business case for legal aid. Research here and in other jurisdictions showed those with legal problems often reported adverse consequences including ill-health, stress-related problems, loss of income or employment, violence or damage to property, breakdown of relationships, or loss of one’s home.

Ministry of Justice economists in the UK estimated that, over a three-and-a-half-year period, unresolved law-related problems cost individuals and the public purse £13 billion (€15.6 billion).

Other UK research showed savings could range from £2.34 in the area of housing for every £1 spent on legal aid to £8.80 in the area of benefits.

“It is clear that failure to resolve the more serious problems in a speedy and equitable manner creates considerable adverse consequences both for the individuals involved, their families, their working and social lives and ultimately the State,” Ms Colley said.

In the future, she said, there would be a move in appropriate cases away from the adversarial court environment towards ADR.

Rea Group Launches new services – Presentation

Friday, August 27th, 2010










I wish to outline to you:

1 . Who are the Rea Group

2 . Who are the team

( a )main team

( b )support team

( c )services to-date

© Rea Group

( d )new services
( e )new website


Back in 1974, William J. Martin and I faced the choice of being redundant

or buying out the Boss when a sharp Recession hit Agriculture in 1974 (not

unlike today).

We were either naïve or bright enough to consider that we could succeed in

providing an Agricultural Consultancy Service on a commercial basis and

succeed against the State Advisory Service which was free of charge. We

were proved right.





As you can see we have agriculturalists, taxation specialists, environmentalists, engineers,

planners, marketing personnel, lawyers, horticulturists, foresters, valuers, economists,

rural development specialists and administrators. As you can see over the years we have

© Rea Group

assembled a dynamic team with expertise to meet out clients’ evolving needs. This team

from the wide variety of backgrounds is at clients’ disposal. You can see details of our

team on our website.


• Agricultural consultancy
• Land and property and business transfer

• Family disputes and settlements
• Compensation reports

• Compulsory Purchase Orders
• Accountancy and taxation services

• Agri-Environmental services and EU farm schemes
• Environmental impact assessment

• Investments products
• International business consultancy



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Back in the 1980’s, our Company was substantially involved in negotiating

solutions with over-borrowed Farming and other Businesses – that

substantially arose due to Interest rates increasing from 8% in 1977/78

period to 21% – 24% in the early 1980’s and rampant inflation.

This resulted in the then Government (Fitzgerald Government) putting in

place the Farm Rescue Package which helped in a substantial way to give

light to both the Borrowers involved and their Banks.

I find it thoroughly amazing that the Head of NAMA, the Bankers and the

Financial Regulator are lacking in imagination as to how to put in place a

mini-NAMA for small Borrowers and Businesses.

I would suggest to the Government that they should lead on this matter and not be

blinded or intimidated by the bureaucrats of the state who have failed in their duty to the

Government and the people in the past i.e. previous Financial Regulator + Central Bank.

The present crisis has been aggravated by a total famine of credit. This is likely to be

aggravated by new regulations announced this week by central Bank – we are now

moving from under-regulating of the banks to being over-regulated.

In 2009, a E.U. Fund was made available for small Businesses and it has

recently emerged that very little of this has been drawn down.

I would suggest that this is because of a lack of commitment by the Banks.

We are offering a Service to deal with two issues :

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Businesses and Farmers that are being denied Credit by their


Businesses and Farmers that are over borrowed and in a most serious

and deteriorating position that has to be dealt with.

The Rea Group has put in place an experienced Team consisting of :

Richard Rea – Business Consultant with extensive experience in debt difficulty.

David Walsh – Well experienced in financial difficulties and their resolution.

Patricia Calleary – Engineer and planner with wide experience in site assessment.

Oliver Ryan-Purcell – Agricultural Law expert

Harvey Jones – Negotiator

In addition, we have strong Professional relationships with other colleagues

who have experience in this area to enable us handle the cases that are

present. Set out on our new website you will find more detail on this service.

The Government has obtained commitments from the Banks to make

€3 Billion available for viable Businesses. However, the viability of many

Businesses has been severely damaged by the delay in providing suitable credit lines.

In Survey conducted by ISME, as recently as February last 55% of credit applications

were rejected

Received Credit Refused Credit
NOV 2008 43% 57%
FEB 2009 52% 48%
MAY 2009 42% 58%
OCT 2009 58% 42%
FEB 2010 45% 55%

© Rea Group

The Government apart from trying to insist that Banks make facilities available, have to

ensure that the Banks do not talk out of both sides of their mouths by :

Making more Credit available


As a condition – charging more for existing Credit or demanding extra security that

is just not available.

(I wish to acknowledge that certain bank managers will facilitate their customers where

they can – and a lot of ordinary workers in the banks are under duress themselves from

their head offices)

In another Survey commissioned by I.S.M.E., it was found that from May 2009 – to early

2010, 80% of respondents considered that the Banks were making it more difficult to

obtain additional Finance. Unnecessary bureaucracy is being put in place at present by a

particular bank to deal with new or extended applications.

Our services consist of:

Identifying the magnitude of the problem so as to design a Debt Management Plan

to aid recovery where this is an option.

Devising a Strategy to protect Family Assets and safety of Inheritance where this is


Taking over and managing the problem and negotiating settlement in circumstances

where there is a possibility of doing so.

Reviewing the Security position, Personal guarantees, and the circumstances that

© Rea Group

led to the Financial difficulty. Investigating the possibility of reckless lending and

Having established the facts of each case, advising in association with our retained
reckless advice and the Bank Loan guaranteed.

Experts in relation to Summons, Legal proceedings, Judgments, Bankruptcy,

Attachment Orders, Freezing of Personal Assets, setting aside Asset Transfers,

Schemes of Arrangements and Defenses.

The Rea Group wish to point out that a very substantial amount of Farming and

other Business can be saved by early intervention with good financial action,

strategic advice and negotiation.


Ireland is now regarded as one of the most expensive Countries in the

World for Litigation.

© Rea Group

Recent changes have come into play by the Court Service in respect of

Mediation – Michael O’Connor, Barrister and Oliver Ryan-Purcell, agricultural law

consultant will outline this.

The Rea Group have been providing Expert Witness Reports to Solicitors since the Rea

Group commenced.

The Rea Group are now joining forces with Barrister Michael O’Connor BL and Oliver

Ryan-Purcell, agricultural law expert – who has had a long association with the Rea

Group. They have put in place a Team of Accredited Mediators who will be in a position

to offer a Mediation Service to a wide range of Businesses including Agriculture,

Construction as well as the area of Employment Disputes, but not limited to these. The

Rea Group would see itself as being able to facilitate solicitors and their clients resolve

disputes in a cost effective manner.

I introduce Oliver Ryan-Purcell who is leading the Mediation Division

of our Company.

The traditional method of dispute resolution is the Court Process – preceded perhaps by

off the record attempts at settlement. As you well know, this generally public procedure

can be cumbersome, expensive, time consuming and stressful.

Mediation is an alternative form of dispute resolution which is both growing in popularity

© Rea Group

and is also, as Michael will show, now encouraged in various pieces of European and

domestic legislation.

Mediation is a simple process generally involving one or perhaps more meetings between

the mediator and individual parties to the dispute or both parties together as appropriate.

These meetings take place at mutually convenient times and places such as hotel rooms.

The parties effectively communicate through the mediator who merely guides and

facilitates the process and helps the parties to explore all options to achieve settlement.

Communication is re-established, stress is virtually eliminated, confidentiality is assured

and all sorts of options for settlement are explored.

The process is very much ‘off the record’ and the parties are free to terminate it at

any time and their legal rights and remedies remain unaffected. Cost is minimal when

compared to Court proceedings.

Parties remain in control of the process as opposed to the Court Process when the parties

are subject to the Court Diary and procedure.

There is a written mediation agreement beforehand setting out the ground rules. Once

settlement is achieved, it is recorded in a settlement agreement.

Otherwise, there is no official or binding documentation of any kind.

Accredited mediators are qualified to handle any type of dispute but obviously it helps

when the mediators have a particular understanding of the type of disputes they are

mediating including the relevant law and practice. I have been in rural private practice

as a solicitor with particular emphasis on agricultural law for upwards of thirty years

but have now opted to cease practice in order to become a professional mediator and

agricultural law consultant.

© Rea Group

Personally, my area therefore would be in the area of agricultural/family/succession/

inheritance/farm partnership formation and dissolution/ neighbour/ private landlord

and tenant/ conflict i.e. what would be termed the civil area generally involving private

parties. Michael O’Connor would tend to deal more with the commercial area including

company, commercial leasing, shareholder and section 205, winding up and/or related

petitions, large debt recovery. Obviously both of us would have the advantage access

to the wealth of knowledge and expertise available from other support members of the

Rea Group and we will be joined shortly by more people from within the Rea Group

as they themselves become accredited and who will have particular expertise in such

areas as accounting and taxation, investment on and off farm and of course farm and

other business, family settlements, family disputes, employment disputes, construction

disputes, bank disputes.

A mediator’s intervention at an appropriate time could save hundreds of thousands of

euro in court costs.

Again, it could be the difference between the happy survival of a united farm or family

business on the one hand or the destruction of a farm/business and an unending family

feud on the other. The intervention of a respected confidential mediator when parties

need some differences ironed out and while they are still on good terms can often be a


Matters that need resolution where communication between parties on such issues is

difficult and where any publicity must be avoided at all costs, literally cry out for the

intervention of a good mediator. By providing highly competent completely confidential

professional mediation services, the Rea Group can save huge expense and unending

heartache for people while at the same time greatly enhancing their assets, livelihoods and

© Rea Group

enjoyment of life generally.
Mediation is the sensible way of the future in solving conflict and the Rea Group are to

the fore in leading that way.

I introduce Michael O’Connor Barrister to give background of the legal



Our Company has been involved in a wide range of Services but many

people are not aware that we have been involved in assisting our Clients and

others in developing Business outside of their Farming activity.

Over €425 Million is being made available under the Rural Development

Programme to assist new businesses in rural areas.

The Rea Group have been involved in undertaking Feasibility Studies for

such new Business, negotiating Credit facilities and providing on-going

services once established such as Accounting and Taxation, and Strategic

© Rea Group

and Marketing advice, but this has not been widely known.

A number of our Clients have agreed to participate in our Website so I now

intend setting out briefly what these people achieved.

As many of these people only developed their business concepts in the tail end of the last

recession, their vision and stories are important so as to give hope to existing people who

want to develop their own business

Ballacola, Co. Laois

They are farmers who developed and market their
own stone products and stone products from other

Moyne, Co. Tipperary

reinstated an old castle in line with
best practice and developed an
excellent tourist product.

John & Patricia Hourrigan
Co. Limerick

they supply natural and synthetic Murroe,
grass to a wide variety of customers
for landscaping, sports, golf, ornamental lawns,
putting greens and tennis courts, in addition they
are farmers

Abbeyleix, Co. Laois

These two clients are farmers -
but they are unique in that they
owned no land. They developed the
Abbeyleix Manor Hotel

Cahir, Co. Tipperary

The Apple Fram was well-
established prior to Rea Group being
retained by Traas Family in the

© Rea Group

1970’s. They produce apples and wonderful
juice which has won a large number of
Bridgestone awards and are developing other
innovative products


While this business is based in
Dublin the Principal Kate Bowe is from Thurles.
They are market leaders in the arts and film PR

Co. Armagh

This company are market leaders
in fertilizer-free potatoes and other products.
The Rea Group were involved with them at the
conceptual and development stage of the business

The new website sets out details of these companies.

This nationwide range and diversity of business demonstrate the ability of

Rea Group to make a positive contribution to a wide range of businesses.

We need as a Community to support new Business ventures. Far too much

time is involved in Dail Eireann and in the Media on the Blame-game for

our present position, but insufficient energy is being spent on how to get out

of our present difficulties. We cannot change the past but we can change /

influence the future if we are positive.

The smart economy promised by the Government and supported by all parties will

provide some jobs but unless we fundamentally reform, how the State does its business –

then this Country will not have a sustainable recovery.

Government Policy has to be smart and the Government needs to do its business smartly

to overcome our problems.

© Rea Group

Greater competition in relation to the provision of state services needs to be introduced

– it is wrong that the State provides a very substantial subsidy to State organizations in

circumstances where there the private sector is denied a similar subsidy. State and semi-

State agencies could be privatized or a voucher system introduced enabling the service

recipient to choose from a number of service providers resulting in an improved service to

the individual and saving to the State.

When I was a youth in the 1960’s, I constantly heard stories about the

Economic War in the 1930’s and the emergency during World War II. We are at present

in an economic war but the steps necessary to help resolve it are not been taken quickly


The McCarthy Report set out the cuts necessary as a start. I consider 90% of

the McCarthy Report should be implemented immediately and that

McCarthy should be asked to prepare follow-up Reports.

In the 1980’s, many Graduates emigrated and returned in the 1990’s. We now have many

Graduates with no prospects of employment and little prospects in other Countries either.

There is – I consider – an obligation on existing businesses in association with the

Government to provide work experience to such Graduates which will help fuel our


While F.D.I. is very important in job creation, the most reliable way to

re-build this economy is with indigenous industry – either Agriculture / Food

Tourism or Intellectual Enterprise generated by people in Ireland.

However Agriculture over the years has been down-graded.This is regrettable because as

an indigenous industry agriculture has a number of positive characteristics Farming and

the agri-food industry contribute more than their sizes relative to other sectors, to both

© Rea Group

employment and exports.

The ratio of imported production materials used in agricultural production relative

to home produced inputs and to exports is low by comparison with other sectors in

the economy.

It is a relatively stable industry in that food demand remains constant irrespective

of booms and recessions. Ireland is well placed to meet increasing world demand for

Farmers are encouraged to provide public goods such as the protection of the

environment and enhancement of the country side. They are compensated for the costs

involved in this through schemes such as REPS and AEOS. However the main business

of farmers which is food production is currently unprofitable and is leading to stagnation.

This is not sustainable.

When favourable economic conditions are made available to farmers and businesses they

will respond.

Agriculture can help lead the recovery but only if the Producers of the raw material are

rewarded for doing so.

There is little point in Farmers being told – you will get a good price for Food in 2020 or

Provision of public goods by farmers on its own will not lead to any improvement

in the Agricultural Economy.

In our experience, people from a rural background who have been successful in their own

Farming business are more likely to succeed in establishing another non-Farming

Business. This is due to their strong work ethic, previous management experience and

their desire to succeed. What we need is a growing group of positive and innovative

entrepreneurs who have the vision to develop successful Business and wealth, and as a

© Rea Group

consequence create employment from that success.
This Company has been involved with such people and our objective this evening is to

make the Market aware that we are in this Business and that we have been facilitators in

developing new business. We are involved in providing assistance from the conceptual

stage of business ideas and in overcoming barriers to enterprise.








© Rea Group


Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Irish Farmers Monthly

Martin & Rea Agricultural Consultants has launched three new Services: Mediation, Debt Management and
Rural Business Development. Speaking at the launch, Richard Rea said he found it thoroughly amazing
that the Head of NAMA, the Bankers and the Financial Regulator are lacking in imagination as to how to
put in place a mini-NAMA for small borrowers and businesses. He pointed to the Farm Rescue package of
the 1980’s and said a similar package was necessary today for farmers. Tom Dawson, Agronomy Director
of Services with the Company, said farmers have been very badly affected, particularly at the back end of
last year and early this year. He said they are struggling with credit, and are experiencing great difficulty in
getting credit lines agreed with their Institutions. He said the Company had recently helped a farm family
where – in a Transfer situation, with all the Loans in the Parents’ name – the son, who was taking over the
farm, was looking to get it all transferred into his name. However, the Bank was looking to increase the
Credit Terms and more security than what was there originally. “In fairness, a lot of local Banks are quite
willing to talk to us and try and make a deal, but they are coming under pressure too from higher up the
line. Back in the 1980’s, when we were involved in a lot of this type of work, Bank Managers had more
autonomy than they do now”. While Interest Rates are nothing like they were in the 1980’s, he says
the level of Debt is substantially higher in a lot of cases. Coupled with this, the level of farm income is
making it more difficult for farmers to make the repayments.

Farmers urged to turn from law to mediation

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Irish Independant

By Caitriona Murphy

(from left) Tom Dawson, Rea Group; Mark Fielding, ISME; Minister of State for Labour and Reform of the Public Service Dara Calleary; Richard Rea, Rea Group; Evelyn O’Donnell. Donal T Ryan & Co solicitors; barrister Michael O’Connor and Oliver Ryan-Purcell, Rea Group agri-law consultant, take a break at the launch of the Rea Group Mediation service in Cashel, Co Tipperary

Ireland is now regarded as one of the most expensive countries in the world for litigation.

A typical farm-family dispute over a will in the circuit court is estimated to cost a minimum of €15,000 plus VAT for each side.

However, Rea Group, the Tipperary-based farm consultancy firm, has launched a new mediation division, which, they argue, could cost significantly less for individuals involved in farm disputes.

Led by well-known solicitor Oliver Ryan-Purcell and barrister Michael O’Connor, the new division will handle succession and inheritance issues, neighbour disputes, landowner/ tenant problems, commercial leasing, shareholder disputes and large debt recovery.

Speaking at the launch of the mediation service, Mr Ryan-Purcell described litigation as “going for the jugular”.

“The court process is cumbersome, expensive, time consuming and stressful,” he said.

“Using mediation could avoid decades of litigation. A mediator’s intervention at an appropriate time could save hundreds of thousands of euro in court costs.

“It could be the difference between the happy survival of a united farm or family business on the one hand or the destruction of a farm or business and an unending feud on the other,” he added.

Barrister Mr O’Connor said mediation would be very useful in a farm scenario where the father leaves everything to one child and the other children immediately challenge the will.

“If there are several claims, that means the sale of the farm,” said Mr O’Connor.

“There is a winner-takes-all aspect to court litigation, but mediation offers an alternative and is now being encouraged through the court system,” he added.

Mediation is a simple process involving one or more meetings between a mediator and individual parties to the dispute or the parties together.

The mediator guides and facilitates the process by helping the parties to explore all options to achieve settlement.