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Mediation Scrutiny

Date:30 MAR 2007

Following the National Audit Office (NAO) value for money report Legal aid and mediation for people involved in family breakdown (HC 256) published on 2 March 2007, the House of Commons Public Accounts committee called Carolyn Regan, Chief Executive, and Richard Collins, Executive Director for Policy at the Legal Services Commission (LSC) to give evidence at its meeting on 12 March. Sir John Bourn KCB, Comptroller and Auditor General, and Janice Lawler, Director of the NAO, were also present. Austin Mitchell MP asked why mediation was not made compulsory: was the real reason we did not do so because it would harm the lawyers? Did the LSC have statistics about whether compulsory mediation worked effectively in the countries which had adopted it? The LSC did not but the NAO responded that where there is a system in which parties have to mediate, clearly there will be a higher success rate: in statistical terms it was justified. On being asked why, therefore, this jurisdiction did not have such a system, Richard Collins of the LSC bluntly replied that that was because the Government and Parliament had decided that we should not. For a full summary of the Public Accounts Committee inquiry see May [2007] Fam Law. For a summary of the NAO report see April [2007] Fam Law.