Irish Arbitration Act 2010: A New Act for a Centuries Old Tradition
Rory O'Keeffe, Legal Adviser, RPS Group Limited, Ireland
Over the centuries, Éire or Ireland has been described by historians in many different ways: ‘The Green Isle’, ‘The land of Saints and Scholars’, the ‘Land of a Thousand Welcomes’, to name but a few.
Before common law, legal practitioners were called Brehons. They were neither judges nor lawyers although many consider them so. In reality, they were arbitrators whose responsibility was to settle disagreements. The Brehons had to study the laws for years before they were allowed to practice their art due in part to the size or volume of the laws that were enforced. It was an oral code to the greatest extent, and was only first written down around the 3rd Century.
One example of such laws, which is quite apt considering our current economic climate:
''If a person who is of a higher rank than you refuses to pay his debt you may sit at his doorstep and fast until he submits to arbitration. If you die before he submits he shall be blamed for your death and shall suffer lifelong disgrace.''
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