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Could mediation reduce court backlog?

Article by: Ruth Murphy at The Law Society.

Improved access to mediation is positive though it may not be suitable in all cases, the Law Society of England and Wales said today, as the government launched a consultation on proposals to resolve most small claims cases of up to £10,000 through mediation.

Law Society vice president Lubna Shuja said: “It is encouraging to see the government looking for ways to reduce the courts backlog, and ensure disputes are resolved quickly and at minimal cost.

“We welcome greater access to low-cost mediation which will be a suitable method of resolution in many cases.

“However, if parties are not interested in entering into mediation in good faith, it could waste time, as well as money, and there is a further risk that mediation may entrench imbalances of power between parties.

“The mediation service needs to be properly funded and well-resourced to facilitate these proposals. With proper funding, it could help reduce the courts backlog.

“We will consider the proposals carefully to see whether they contain sufficient safeguards to ensure they contribute to justice rather than undermine it.”

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