mediation increases but courts under strain

Case of Mediation Increasing But The Court System Still Under Strain

The latest figures from the MoJ has shown increases in the number of mediation assessments for the quarter April – September 2019.

Figures released have shown a 14% increase from the last quarter in the amount of Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) but this is still much lower than the pre-LASPO levels.

There was no indication of the reason for this in the report, however there has been some allusion that due to the cuts to Legal Aid, less family cases are going to solicitors (this is being seen through the increase in litigants in person), who would ordinarily advise mediation before litigation.

It is encouraging though that numbers attending mediation are increasing, decreasing the stress on the court system that Simon Davis, president of the Law Society, says is at ‘breaking point”.

The rise in MIAMs may be attributed to the increase of 10% in legal help matters, where people are able to access advice from a solicitor rather than represented in court. This ‘gatekeeping’ allows solicitors to refer clients for an assessment as to whether mediation would be a better route and may also meet the requirements for Legal Aid.

There was some further good news in that the number of family cases has decreased as well as the number of cases disposed of by the courts has increased, although the decrease in cases was only 5%, but still a step in the right direction.

There is still considerable strain on the court system however, with only 41% of care proceeding cases meeting the target of 26 weeks.

The average time for care cases to be dealt with now stands at 33 weeks, the longest average time since 2013.

Divorce cases are also taking longer with an average time of 33 weeks from petition to decree nisi and 58 weeks from petition to decree absolute. The MoJ has made note however that statistics do not yet reflect the quarter comparisons on the new digital system for divorce applications.

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