The Mediation Act 2017 came into operation on 1st January 2018. The Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan said he believes the Act will speed up the resolution of disputes, reduce legal costs associated with such disputes and reduce or avoid the stress involved in adversarial court proceedings. Up to now mediation has been seen as a well-intentioned alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process but without teeth. The Act changes all that and formally puts mediation on a legal footing. Legal requirements are now imposed on mediators and protections have been put in place for the parties. The Act supports mediation as a confidential, cost-effective, time-efficient process in which parties in a dispute resolve their difficulties with the assistance of an independent, experienced, trained mediator. Before commencing civil legal proceedings a party is now obliged to consider mediation instead of court proceedings with a legal requirement on solicitors to explain the process and benefits. Parties already in litigation can pause the legal process and go to mediation with the assistance of the Courts.