Compulsory mediation – are the courts finally making a decision?

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There is a clear motivation for parties to focus on resolution rather than dispute in legal matters.

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Mediation is widely known by all those who have been through the legal process and gives the parties one last chance to settle the matter and avoid the matter being heard in court. For some parties, this is a useful tool to put the matter to bed and move on. However, for some parties, it may be considered a waste of time.

At Lawgistics, we always encourage our members to consider mediation to show the courts that a settlement has been considered and attempted, and in some cases, agreements have been made and the matter discontinued.

However, there has been talk for some time about making mediation compulsory and securing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as a stage of the court process. In 2004, the court made a decision in Halsey v Milton Keynes General NHS Trust that parties cannot be compelled to mediate and several supporters of this decision have concluded that compulsive mediation is in breach of their human rights. However, this argument was quashed in 2021.

Now, mediation groups who are supporting compulsory ADR are targeting the Churchill v Merthyr Tydfil case that is due to be heard in the Court of Appeal later this year.

Although this case is not concerning the motor trade industry, any decisions made in this case about mediation will no doubt affect the court processes that some of our members go through.

It is unclear whether the parties involved in Churchill v Merthyr Tydfil would be arguing for a blanket compulsory ADR scheme or whether the outcome of the case would simply allow judges to order parties to use ADR. However, there is a clear motivation for parties to focus on resolution rather than dispute in legal matters.

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Kimberly StickleyTrainee SolicitorRead More by this author

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