UK: The Seven Month Itch. Is Mediation Working?
Last Updated: 6 December 2011

There has been a notable decline in the number of cases involving children and financial matters going through the courts, since the introduction of Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMS). This was the core finding from law firm Charles Russell's recent seminar that explored the success rate of mediation and MIAMs as a quicker, cheaper and more harmonious way of dealing with disputes.

However, participants including key members of the High Court Judiciary as well as lawyers and mediators, agreed that more could and should be done to improve the MIAMs process for those experiencing relationship breakdown.

In April 2011, the Government introduced MIAMs to remind couples, lawyers and judges to consider alternative ways of resolving disputes (ADR) rather than turning to the courts. Although the initiative initially received a mixed reaction from legal circles, there has been a noticeable increase in mediation work .Over time and with judicial encouragement, the Government initiative should gain momentum.

Sarah Anticoni, partner and mediator at Charles Russell, commented:

"We had a lively interdisciplinary debate exploring the recent introduction of MIAMS , a system that clearly needs some improvement .The benefits of mediation go beyond couples sorting out money and focuses on future parenting and communication.

"We expect mediation and MIAMs to be of growing importance to couples resolving their disputes in a constructive and collaborative way. The earlier a choice of options is explained and made available to a couple, the less likely court proceedings will be chosen, especially when children are involved.

"In the absence of the Ministry of Justice collating data as to how successful MIAMs are operating, we will be continuing the debate in May 2012 when the initiative will have run for a full year."

The seminar, co-hosted with 29 Bedford Row and chaired by Lord Wilson of Culworth, was also attended by other key members of the judiciary from the High Court Family Division including, Mr Justice Mostyn and Mr Justice Baker as well as the Senior District Judge, Phillip Waller.

Research1 undertaken on behalf of Charles Russell earlier this year revealed that two-thirds of Brits welcomed the Government's initiative to introduce enforced mediation for couples who are thinking of separating. The survey revealed that 65% of people were supportive of the initiative.

Footnotes

1. Research from Consumer Intelligence.com, based on a survey of 2,340 British adults, carried out between 18th ââ

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