Mediation vouchers championed by Family Division President
At the Jersey Family Law Conference last week president of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane revealed the extent of the success of the mediation voucher scheme launched in March 2021.
The vouchers were introduced in the wake of the 2013 legal aid cuts which saw mediation referrals plummet. Through the scheme families can apply for £500 vouchers towards the cost of mediation, which is usually charged for unless one of the parties has access to legal aid.
According to Sir Andrew McFarlane more than three-quarters of family cases eligible for mediation were successfully resolved away from court, with either a partial or whole agreement. Hi speech at conference revealed that the Family Mediation Council had distributed over 2,000 vouchers, averaging 130 vouchers a week.
In August it was announced that a further £800,000 would be made available for the scheme.
New Justice Secretary Dominic Raab suggested that Alternative Dispute Resolution should be more readily available in his conference speech last week, saying
“Court ought to be in many of these areas the point of last resort. We should use much more alternative dispute resolution for these things.”
A major call for evidence on the best ways to settle family, business and other civil disputes away from the court room was launched by the Government in August, the responses to which will shape future reforms to civil, family and administrative justice.
Much like the success of the mediation vouchers, research has shown that more than 70% of those using mediation services for civil disputes will resolve their issues outside of a courtroom. In 2019, only 3% of the two million civil proceedings issued went to trial, showing the vast majority of claims can be resolved without the need for a judgment.