Simon Hughes discusses the promotion of mediation in family law cases

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Secretary of State for Justice, Simon Hughes, answered a written question this week, discussing the promotion of mediation in family law cases.

Mr Hughes was asked “what steps he is taking to promote mediation is the resolution of family and other legal disputes” and provided a written answer on 5th March 2015.

Mr Hughes began by explaining that as of 22nd April 2014 it is required for anyone applying to court in relation to a financial or children matter to first attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Since then attendance at MIAMs increased 20% from July-September 2012 to July-September 2014, and attendance at mediation has also increased, from 1.783 in April-June 2014 to 1,890 in the period July-September 2014.

The Secretary of State also stressed that legal aid is still available for family mediation and for legal advice to support mediation. Furthermore, as of 3 November 2014, the first single session of mediation is publically funded in all cases where one of the parties is eligible for legal aid. This means that both the MIAM and the first mediation session will be publically funded.

Mr Hughes drew attention to a new campaign, which went live on 2nd January 2015, entitled ‘First Stop: Family Mediation’. This campaign aims to promote mediation as well as advise on how to access it and any legal aid which may be available.

It was also noted in the written answer that on 1st January 2015 the Family Mediation Council introduced a new Professional Standards Framework, which regulates the operation of family mediators. This gives the public confidence in the service provided by mediators.

Finally, Mr Hughes pointed out that the Government encourages mediation through literature available in the Courts, provisions in the CPR, and pre-action protocols.

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