“… Mediation is an established and valued part of the dispute resolution process of which the Family Court also forms a part. It is important for judges to be aware of the advantages that mediation can bring to resolving disputes between separated parents and to bear these in mind when cases come before them which may benefit from mediation. I would also encourage judges to become familiar with the mediation services which are available in their areas.”
This was written by Sir James Mumby, the most senior family law judge in England and Wales in his introduction to the current version of the official guide to mediation that has been prepared for family judges.
“Skilled mediators are now able to achieve results satisfactory to both parties in many cases which are quite beyond the power of lawyers and courts to achieve. This court has knowledge of cases where intense feelings have arisen, for instance in relation to clinical negligence claims. But when the parties are brought together on neutral soil with a skilled mediator to help them resolve their differences, it may very well be that the mediator is able to achieve a result by which the parties shake hands at the end and feel that they have gone away having settled the dispute on terms with which they are happy to live. A mediator may be able to provide solutions which are beyond the powers of the court to provide. ”
This is what Lord Justice Brooke had to say about mediation in the important Court of Appeal case of Dunnett -v- Railtrack PLC. This was a civil case but Lord Justice Brooke’s comments apply to family and all other forms of mediation.
Mediation associations and support organisations
The Family Mediators Association (FMA) estimates that legal costs average between £5000 – £7000 PER PERSON a large proportion of which could be subject to VAT at THE RATE OF 20%.
By contrast private [family] mediation generally costs around £1200 (THAT IS £1200 IN TOTAL-NOT PER PARTY) for a family case with a lot of different issues to resolve.
The FMA also estimates that disputes about child arrangements can be agreed in 1 or 2 (mediation) meetings. These meetings could be held once week and would last between one hour and 90 minutes. For three hours work Albert Square Mediation Limited would charge approximately £300 with no VAT. There may be some additional solicitors or court fees but because 95% of the work would have been done in the mediation sessions, any additional costs should be minimal. It should also be borne in mind that although Legal Aid is now very rarely available for family cases, depending on the finances of individual parties, it is still available for family mediation.
Families Need Fathers writes on its website:-
“Mediation can be hugely beneficial to parents experiencing difficulties in reaching their own arrangements after separation. It gives time and space to both parties in a neutral environment, and the assistance of a trained mediator can provide the right conditions for parents to be able to resolve their disputes amicably.”
The Law Society (the governing body for solicitors in England and Wales which actively promotes mediation and operates its own mediation accreditation scheme) states
“Family problems can cause legal nightmares. Mediation can help you resolve things without going to court.”
The Law Society makes it abundantly clear that in accordance with legislative requirements, solicitors are expected to advise their clients about mediation and its availability.
It is clear from these extracts that prominent members of the senior judiciary and organisations with excellent knowledge and experience of the family law system support mediation.
Principal Director of ASM PLUS, civil/commercial, workplace, employment, family and educational mediator and trainer with a judicial/legal background. He has knowledge and expertise in dispute resolution in a wide range of areas and disciplines and mediates online.