Mediation – access to justice for all

Hasan SadikEnvironmental Issues, Mediation, Neighbourhood Disputes

Mediation accessibility

There are many reasons why mediation is believed to be preferable to litigation; less costly, and less lengthy than extensive court battles being recited most often. But actually there is something more; its accessibility, the level of which litigation rarely achieves.  

The range of people and circumstances that can be assisted through mediation has seen exponential growth over recent years, thanks to an increase in resolution of disputes related to families, neighbourhoods and boundaries with improved efficiency and fairness. These successes have truly magnified the potential for growth of mediation, particularly as it continues to make an impressive imprint in the landscape of smaller cases of dispute resolution. The success of the unbiased, non-authoritarian approach tends to challenge perceptions that it’s not substantive or effective, and there is a catalogue of evidence to support. And it is for exactly that reason that the profile of mediation has been elevated and it is now considered as a serious method of ADR. No matter the size of the dispute, it has a mighty formula for finding a resolution. It is confidential, it is voluntary and it offers justice without those expensive and lengthy court proceedings that are so inaccessible to the average person.

The CDR (Commercial Dispute Resolution) magazine have reported that the former Court of Appeal judge turned mediator Sir Alan Ward, has called for the greater promotion and regulation of mediation in order to build on its successes.

Sir Ward is the current head of the Civil Mediation Council (CMC). He describes mediation as “common sense”, particularly when compared with litigation – a risky and lengthy process which often leaves one party with a huge loss. He is reported to have warned that the legal community needs to do more to promote its use. And statutory regulation for all mediators could be the first step, as currently there is none. The CMC administer a voluntary regulation system for civil, commercial and workplace mediators. They outline a code of conduct – deemed to be acceptable by industry standards. They also check subscribed mediators or organisations have suitable insurance, have a continuous training and development plan in place, and themselves offer a complaints support service. But what about the other strands of mediation?

Our previous blogs have covered mediation in a variety of scenarios, including veterinary disputes, restorative justice and not quite so surprising – family disputes. It offers families of all sizes, income and background an opportunity to find a reparative outcome that could benefit all members, not only in terms of the specific dispute but also in their future relationships. It seems the courts of law are realising its value too and as such are encouraging small cases to try and use mediation as a means for justice before progressing to litigation. Indeed since April 2014, it has been compulsory to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before making an application to court for family disputes. There are no boundaries for how much mediation could benefit companies, communities and individuals. Let’s hope Sir Ward’s comments will trigger the legal profession to find a substantial way to endorse and promote mediation, therefore accelerating its use.