Another illustration of policy failure is the paltry amount paid out to family lawyers for supporting clients at mediation with legal advice. The MoJ paid out a grand total of £9,000 to lawyers claiming 'Help with Mediation'. That’s less than the price of going to court for a many private divorce client. And it should also be a cause for concern given decisions taken at mediation need be informed.
The answer is simple: pay legal family lawyers an acceptable sum to support mediation as a legal adviser. At present, the LAA offers lawyers £150 to perform this function. No wonder unbundled services replaced referrals to mediation in 2013/14.
And finally some good news: over three-quarters (79%) of mediation starts led to agreement. This is very impressive and over 10% higher than previous years when most clients ended up in front of mediators as a result of compulsion.
This is also reflected in the stats for MIAMs. Almost two-thirds (63%) of MIAMs led to a mediation start in 2013/14. Again, very impressive given the figure for 2012/13 stood at 44%.
Taken as a whole, the data makes the clear case for voluntarism over compulsion when it comes to success at mediation. The only question in town is what can be done to help both members of a couple – but particularly the second party – see some self-interest in exploring mediation.
With mediation services continuing to close their doors across the country, and more parents at court without a lawyer than with one, lets hope the MoJ comes up with some answers soon.