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Mediation: a degradation of equality before the law?

March 2014

Michelle Simpson, Luke Gittos and Tanya Greaves introduced a discussion on the impact mediation in family and employment disputes is having on the law


Michelle SimpsonIn the wake of cuts to the Civil Courts, the coalition government have been arguing for mediation as an alternative to bringing cases before a Judge. In 2011, a new protocol in the Family Courts compelled parties to family law cases to consider alternative means of settling their cases. In January 2012 Kenneth Clarke, the then Justice Secretary, said that mediation was the best way to solve divorce cases ‘cheaply and simply’. The focus on mediation has given rise to a lucrative area of business for lawyers, who can develop practices on the basis that they are robust mediators.

Luke Gittos

Tanya GreavesFor many, the idea of resolving a case prior to a costly court case was very appealing. But are we at risk of creating a justice system in which finding an answer is prioritised over the exercise of legal judgement? Does it matter if parties bend the rules a bit if it avoids litigation? Does the rise of mediation show that our culture is less litigious, or just more dependent on lawyers solving our problems in the corridors of the Courtroom?


Some background readings

Government-backed mediation pilots – one year in, by Anna Shields, HR Zone 15 January 2014

'Magic pill’ mediation is wrong prescription, by Marilyn Stowe, The Law Society Gazette 27 January 2014


Watch video of the speaker and audience discussion below. Thanks to Dan Clayton the documentary filmmaker from Leeds for this.

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