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MOJ Consultation To Increase The Use Of Mediation In The Civil Justice System

MOJ Consultation To Increase The Use Of Mediation In The Civil Justice System

The Mediation procedure is being considered in the UK to become an integral part of the civil justice system.

On 26 July 2022, The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) launched a public consultation on Increasing the use of mediation in the civil justice system. The consultation was driven by the responses to the MOJ’s Call for Evidence on Dispute Resolution, which highlighted the need for mediation in solving disputes, as it is often more cost effective, faster and more flexible than litigation.

This article will review the following:

  • The introduction to the consultation paper
  • How the increased use of mediation will change the procedure
  • How this will impact UK businesses?
  • Summary and next steps

1. The introduction to the consultation paper

This consultation is aimed at court users, the mediation profession, the legal profession, the judiciary, the advice sector, and all those with an interest in the resolution of civil disputes in England and Wales.
The aim of the proposal is to help more parties to resolve their disputes through mediation, and avoid the time and cost of litigation.
The duration of this consultation is from 26 July 2022 and ends on 4 October 2022. All enquiries are made to MoJ Dispute Resolution team.

The consultation is gathering information to include the following;

  1. Which cases should be mediated and exempted
  2. What happens if parties fail to engage in the mediation process
  3. The consequences and definition of non-engagement and compliance with the mediation procedure
  4. Any improvements to the existing service to ensure continued public confidence

 

2. How the increased use of mediation will change the procedure

A major component of the review is the digitisation of the courts and other legal services online, leading to the increased use of online mediation.
The first proposal is to introduce an automatic referral to mediation for small claims. (valued up to £10,000). Under the proposal, all parties will be required to participate in a free one-hour mediation appointment, which will usually be over the telephone, call with a mediator employed by Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunal Service (HMCTS).
Where the mediation has taken place and settlement has been agreed, this will be registered with the court as an enforceable order.
The second proposal is aimed to strengthen the civil mediation sector, by using the private mediation sector and whether there is a need to increase regulation and oversight of the mediation process.

Resolve disputes through mediation

 

3. How this will impact UK businesses?

Justice Minister Lord Bellamy QC noted that a number of businesses go through the civil courts every year yet many of them do not need to. Mediation will give businesses a chance of settling their claim and avoiding the time and costs consequences that litigation entails.
The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) conduct biennial surveys on the number of commercial disputes resolved through mediation. The survey discloses that the number of mediations carried out year on year is growing and is likely to be further increased following the MOJ consultation with the increased use of mediation in commercial disputes.
This will be welcome news to disputants to have the opportunity to resolve their disputes through the mediation consensual process.
As mentioned earlier, mandatory mediation will not mean that the parties involved have to settle, but they will have to attempt mediation. If the parties choose not to settle then the claim will continue in the court system as usual.

 

4. Summary and next steps

In summary, the time has come for mediation to be viewed as an integral part of the civil justice system, and aid commercial businesses in settling cases amicably, without the costs of litigation.
Mediation provides disputants the opportunity to resolve matters in a quick, cost effective and flexible way compared to court litigation. The procedure enables commercial parties to make use of a common sense approach to address the problem rather than using the courts which can often result in either party feeling unsatisfied.
You can comment on the proposals here, before the consultation closes in 4 October 2022.

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