Dispute resolution in England and Wales: Call for Evidence

Closes 31 Oct 2021

Opened 3 Aug 2021

Overview

This Call for Evidence is seeking evidence on Dispute Resolution from all interested parties, the judiciary, legal profession, mediators and other dispute resolvers, academics, the advice sector, court users. We are particularly interested in collecting evidence from individuals or organisations with data to share on the relevant questions; or those who have had experience of dispute resolution within and outside of the courts system to support the development of more effective dispute resolution mechanisms. We welcome frontline insights with tangible examples.

Foreword

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Lord Woolf’s seminal report on Access to Justice.  The changes he recommended, given effect in the Civil Procedure Rules 2000, were intended to enable cases to be conducted proportionately and promote the use of pre-action protocols to bring about early settlement so that litigation would become a last resort. Since then, Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) were introduced in family cases in 2014, and there have been similar initiatives in the Tribunals. The objective in each instance has been to maximise the chances of early consensual resolution.

A quarter of a century after the Woolf report, litigation is still far from the last resort and too many cases still go through the court process unnecessarily. The provision of dispute resolution schemes remains patchy, even though there are welcome developments including a wide range of Ombudsman schemes, private dispute resolution services and judicial early neutral evaluation projects. But more still needs to be done to increase uptake of less adversarial options.

What have hitherto been regarded as “alternative” methods of dispute resolution need to be mainstreamed within online processes, and within the culture of the legal system, those who work within it, and the consumers and businesses it serves.

There has already been significant progress through the HMCTS reform project with civil money claims, damages, possession claims, enforcement, parts of the tribunals, and public and private law family applications moving online. But we need to build on this progress including utilising more innovative technologies with an integrated online dispute resolution process. 

As we recover from the impact of the pandemic, we want to make the justice system better able to resolve disputes in smarter ways, combining pre-claim portals and court processes with integrated mediated resolution interventions.

We share a commitment to providing the strongest possible evidence base for the development of such an approach. We would like your help to achieve that. We are therefore launching this call for evidence and look forward to hearing from you.

Sir Geoffrey Vos, Master of the Rolls and Head of Civil Justice
Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division
Sir Keith Lindblom, Senior President of Tribunals
Lord Wolfson of Tredegar QC, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
The Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

 

Note: The Senior President of Tribunals’ remit extends to Scotland and Northern Ireland for certain chambers/tribunals. The Call for Evidence is limited to England and Wales for a number of reasons, including the fact that reserved tribunal functions in Scotland are intended to be devolved in the future. However, responses are very welcome from those based in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Give us your views

Audiences

  • Citizens
  • Litigants
  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Court & Tribunal staff
  • Legal professional bodies
  • Academics
  • Family mediators

Interests

  • Courts
  • dispute resolution