Mediator; Visiting Fellow (LSE); Professorial Research Associate (SOAS):
There is a renewal of interest in the application of mediation in the field of public law, recently endorsed by the recommendation in the Family Justice Review Final Report 2011 for a new pilot in this use of mediation. This article examines the theoretical and practical context within which public law has developed in North America as well as its more limited evolution in the UK. Here a four year interdisciplinary pilot has already been conducted - the ADR Joint Project ( 1993- 1997) co-managed by the Child and Family Department of the Tavistock Clinic and National Family Mediation and funded by the Department of Health. The final Report of the findings of the project, called Specialist Child Care Mediation (SCCM), was published in 1998.
This article highlights the distinction that needs to be drawn, not only between SCCM and Family Group Conferences, but also between those cases which have a public law component and which are already being referred to family mediation services.
New initiatives need to take account of the body of knowledge that already exists in this country and the lessons that can learned from the Specialist Child Care Mediation project. Mediation has the potential to offer significant benefits in this delicate and complex area of practice, for children in particular, but there are significant obstacles that need to be addressed as well.
The full version of this article appears in the June 2013 issue of Family Law.