UK Ministry of Justice unveils Proposal for Mandatory Mediation

In late July 2022, the UK Ministry of Justice introduced a proposal for a mandatory mediation mechanism that would serve as a prerequisite for any small claim disputes. The proposal is intended to save people the cost, time, and stress of lengthy courtroom battles.

The proposed mechanism would go as follows:

  • Claims under £10,000 would be automatically diverted to mediation;
  • The parties would be referred to a free hour-long telephone session with a professional mediator provided by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS);
  • During the session, the parties involve will speak separately to the mediator to gauge any common ground;
  • If a solution is brokered, both parties will agree over the phone for it to be made legally binding through a settlement agreement;
  • If the parties do not agree to a solution, their case can progress to a hearing before the court.

*The £10,000 limit would not include personal injury or housing disrepair claims which have a lower threshold*

The Ministry estimates that up to 20,000 extra cases could be solved each year under this proposal. On the other side of the coin, the proposal frees up vital court capacity with up to 7,000 judicial sitting days becoming available. Additionally, the mediation service would be available to approximately 272,000 people.

In setting out the proposal, the Ministry highlights the success of the mechanism in jurisdictions that currently utilize mandatory mediation. Specifically, the proposal cites the success of automatic or mandatory mediation in three Canadian cities in Ontario, which has been in place for over 20 years.

The move is in line with the UK Government’s efforts to implement accessible, fair and affordable dispute resolution systems, to assist parties without the need for the courtroom.


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