Increasing the use of mediation in the civil justice system

Closes 4 Oct 2022

Opened 26 Jul 2022

Overview

This document sets out the Government’s proposal to introduce a requirement to attempt mediation for all proceedings allocated to the small claims track of the County Court. This is the case management process that applies to most types of claims valued under £10,000, although the level is lower for personal injury and housing disrepair claims.  

Under the Government’s proposal, unless an exemption is granted by the court, all parties to a defended small claim (the phrase ‘parties’ includes both the ‘claimant’ and ‘defendant’ in a case) will be required to attend a free mediation appointment with HMCTS before their case can progress to a hearing.  

The proposal is expected to help an additional 272,000 parties every year to access the opportunity to resolve their dispute consensually through mediation and avoid the time and cost of litigation. It is also expected to divert up to 20,000 cases each year from the court system, freeing up judicial resources to be used for complex cases.  

The Government is also considering whether a requirement to mediate should be expanded beyond small claims. To achieve this, we would need to refer parties to external mediators outside the court service. As such, we are seeking stakeholders’ views on the right approach to strengthening oversight of external mediators and ensuring that the market is providing high-quality and accountable mediation services outside the court system.  

Both of these initiatives form part of the Government’s broader efforts and ambition to help parties realise the benefits of consensual dispute resolution processes, such as mediation, and integrate these processes as a key step within the justice system.   

The Government welcomes views from 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.  

Give us your views

Audiences

  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Family mediators
  • Family lawyers

Interests

  • Courts
  • Family justice
  • family mediation
  • dispute resolution