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Resolution warns against simplistic family justice reforms

Date:18 OCT 2010

David Allison, Chair of Resolution Ahead of the Government's comprehensive spending review tomorrow, the family solicitors association Resolution has warned against "simplistic solutions to the complexities of family breakdown".

In an interview in The Times on Monday, David Norgrove, chair of the government's Family Justice Review, said that that keeping family disputes out of court would create huge cost savings and suggested that compulsory family mediation could be a way forward.

Responding to Mr Norgrave's comments, chair of Resolution David Allison (pictured) said that 90 percent of family cases are already settled out of court, often with the help of a family lawyer.

"We are deeply concerned that in its hurry to bring about cost-saving reforms, the Government is going to narrow the gateway to court to such an extent that those families who need it cannot access it."

David Allison also warned that the Government appeared to be rushing ahead with its support for mediation as the only solution to the problems of the family justice system without doing the groundwork.

"How many suitably qualified and regulated family mediators are there in the country? Currently anybody can set up as a mediator. We understand that there may be fewer than 800 mediators who belong to a self regulating body and are concerned that there may not be enough mediators out there to meet demand if it is made compulsory in family cases, or if a compulsory assessment is required before going to court."

He concluded: "We urge the government to properly investigate all alternatives, including collaborative law, arbitration and early parent information, before opting for a quick fix solution to the problems facing the family justice system."

The final set of proposals of the Family Justice Review will be published as an interim report in spring 2011. These proposals will then be subject to public consultation, which will lead to a final report, with proposals for legislation, in autumn 2011.