(Family Law Report)
Comments by the UK’s most senior judge that mediation is particularly suitable for ‘ordinary people’ and ‘average citizens’ in the current economic climate should encourage more family court judges to push people to mediate, says the largest provider of family mediation in England and Wales.
Speaking of the danger that a ‘perfect storm’ of economic circumstances threatens access to justice for ordinary people, Lord Neuberger outlined the impact of a combination of the spiralling cost of litigation, limitations on legal aid, and court fee increases. ‘Given that we are in an age of austerity and proportionality,’ he said ‘mediation is particularly suitable for legal disputes’.
We remain a long way from the tipping point whereby mediation becomes the first port of call for divorcing couples.
However the evidence of our own statistics, showing take-up of mediation is rising, combined with important messages from very senior legal figures, are encouraging indications that we could be heading in the right direction.
We now need family court judges up and down the land to act on Lord Neuberger’s comments, to embrace mediation and use the powers they already have to direct people who come before courts towards alternative means of settling disputes.’