The Court of Appeal makes findings about MIAMs


21st April 2022

In a recent case in the Court of Appeal (K v K [2022] CA Civ 468) the importance of parties attending a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) was stressed. Likewise the importance of Judges considering, at every stage of the proceedings, whether non-court dispute resolution was appropriate, was stressed.

Although the parties usually have to have attended a MIAM before they can issue court proceedings, there are various exemptions. In this case an exemption was sought. The father in December 2019 complained of parental alienation in a without-notice application and claimed an exemption from the MIAM meeting required by the Children and Families Act 2014 s.10 on the basis that further delay would cause undue hardship because he might not see his children at Christmas and that this would cause them a risk of harm.

There were other serious issues to consider but the court was concerned that the requirement for MIAM attendance could be avoided by simply stating that the case was urgent and required a without-notice hearing.

It was pointed out that the list of MIAM exemptions was tightly drawn and that where an exemption was claimed the courts (should) enquire whether it has been validly claimed. It was found that, had the Judge enquired, it would have been clear that the exemption did not apply and the father should have been forced to engage with the MIAM. It was noted that mediation would have been particularly appropriate because, at the start of the dispute, there had been no issue between the parents as to unsupervised contact. Parties were urged to take advantage of the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme where parents can receive up to £500 towards their mediation costs. This is offered by Blake Morgan’s mediators, you can find out more about the scheme here.

This case is yet another example of the increasing role that mediation is expected to play in resolving disputes when proceedings are contemplated or as they progress through the family court justice system.

To find out more about a MIAM and how family mediation can help resolve disputes, speak to one of our experts.

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