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At the outset of this meeting I would like to thank Andy Lenny of Arthur Cox, for their very generous hosting of this AGM. I would like to recognise ICMA’s Patron, Laurence Crowley, and to thank him for his support and for helping this association achieve the status it has. Also for securing some very distinguished speakers for our conference and for workshops. May I also thank Paulyn Marrinan Quinn for all her assistance as Deputy Chairman and a particular thank you to William Aylmer, the Hon Treasurer, and Aoife Gaughan, the Hon Secretary for their very valuable work in steering ICMA through these formative years.
To all of the members of Council and particularly to Stuart Margetson, my immediate predecessor, may I thank then for their encouragement and support throughout the year. May I also thank both Stuart and William for hosting our meetings in their offices and for the very welcome breakfasts which they provided. As you know the election of the new Council is taking place this evening and you will be voting in those members interested in developing the association over the next year, some members will resign others will put their names forward and some may be co-opted during the year. For all their work and support I am very grateful. May I mention one person, Joe Kelly from A&L Goodbody who is retiring from ICMA having served since its foundation. His advice and good council has been both important and valuable.
With regard to officers of ICMA – these will be elected at the next council meeting. For your information, I intend offering myself for one further term and will do so at the next Council meeting.
For your information I would like to briefly outline the development of ICMA. In March of 2005 ICMA was incorporated. It has a board of directors (Stuart Margetson, Niall Pelly and I) who manage the affairs of ICMA Ltd, but pass to the Council the development and direction of the association. This is a useful framework which has controls, which I am happy to say has not affected the work of the Council to date. From a practical point of view, it relieves the council members of their obligations as directors, which many of you know are onerous. The structure does however give Council members a pivotal role in developing the association.
ICMA was established to advance commercial mediation and this promotional and linking role is still fundamental to its work. It is important that we have both individuals and organisations who are interested in Commercial Mediation on board as council members. I think I can speak for all that we are happy with the Councils’ make-up, although we would welcome more members from the business community and from representatives of business organisations.
In my opinion it is the maturing of society that will increase the use of commercial mediation in disputes. However there are still many barriers to accepting mediation as a valuable form of conflict resolution:
Therefore the ICMA will, during this year, concentrate on the following:
In Strategic terms the mission of ICMA can be divided into two sections –
Regarding membership; Individuals who wish to join ICMA may do so without scrutiny. They join and choose to promote their expertise on a self-regulatory basis with the requirement that they accept the EU code of conduct for mediators as part of their profile. Individuals, who do not wish to be listed as mediators, may join as ordinary members promoting the concepts of commercial mediation without putting their name forward as a mediator.
As to ICMA itself; your Council has debated the topic and recommends that the practice of self regulation will continue for the foreseeable future. Other organisations that represent mediators will draw up their own criteria and offer themselves as a body with their own standards and regulations. ICMA welcomes such organisations and has a place on Council for such bodies. May I mention that Karen Erwin, a distinguished member of Council, is President of the mediators Institute of Ireland and we welcome that close relationship.
With regard to the regulation of Commercial Mediators or Mediator Groups; this is an important step for any organisation and it requires considerable work and resources.
As a point of information (and Paulyn Marrinan Quinn knows much more that I on this subject): In the UK, the Civil Mediation Council (CMC) was established in 2002, specifically to represent, regulate and promote mediation service providers. The onus is on the service providers therefore to achieve regulated standards and an audit of these on a regular basis.
If a similar route were to be considered in relation to service providers in this jurisdiction or if our listing of individual mediators is to be regulated, then ICMA needs to consider the implications, perhaps change its fundamental remit and then, if agreed, resource the process fully. This is no easy task.
Since the outset ICMA’s mission to be “the umbrella organisation for all those involved with commercial mediation “, included strategic links to representative and professional bodies and this was seen as an important part of the objectives and this still applies.
ICMA’s strategy and objectives for this year, as I have listed, will need to be underpinned by formal (though not necessarily requiring Council representation) relationships with various organisations. The goal for ICMA is to become a fully 'networked' organisation and a respected source of information for matters relating to commercial mediation generally.
At the same time, and it has been stated before, that the ultimate measure of the success of ICMA, at least in its present form, will, in fact, be its demise. ie the broad general acceptance, by all sectors of the commercial community, of commercial mediation as an valuable, regularly used method of dispute resolution.
24th January 2007.