Recently, Dominic Raab has suggested that further reforms may be on the way to direct more family law cases into mediation, rather than to the Court.
He made wide ranging comments in his annual appearance before the House of Lords constitution committee, including that the Ministry of Justice would continue to invest in mediation schemes for private family law cases, but also indicated that there would need to be a check to prevent people from going to Court. Effectively, he wants the system to incentivise people to go to mediation, and disincentivise them from going to Court.
The mediation voucher scheme is already in place, and perhaps it will be further schemes like this that will be the incentive.
It could be argued that there are already huge incentives in attending mediation; it is a much more time-effective way of resolving disputes, and can be cost-effective accordingly. By contrast, the Court system can be slow, and it can be costly to have solicitors and barristers involved.
This comes on the heels of the President of the Family Division’s speech in September 2022, discussing the relaunch of mediation with the Family Mediation Association Conference. This concluded with indicating that there is a “head of steam” for building change in the way separating parents and former partners can be supported in resolving disputes, and that family mediation must play a central part in this. One of the key principles in family mediation is to keep the children at the heart of discussions, and so whilst this might seem like change, in practice, mediators will be well versed in this.
It can only be good news that there is to be more investment in mediation, and a greater understanding of the benefits of this route.
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