Make them mediate! Is there a case for compulsion?

Make them mediate! Is there a case for compulsion?

So the results are in. Far from triggering a boom in family mediation, the first six months of life after LASPO have seen publicly funded family mediation massively shrink and litigants in person swell. Three cheers for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)!

Between April and September 2013, the number of couples attending mediation information and assessment meetings (MIAMs) fell by 51% compared to the same period in 2012. The data shows individual monthly falls of 70% and over in Bristol, Cardiff and Manchester. Likewise, the number of family mediations getting underway between April and September 2013 fell by exactly one third year-on-year.

Impacted family mediation services – most of them not attached to law firms – are hunkering down and waiting patiently for spring 2014 when the law is likely to change requiring an applicant to attend a MIAM before being allowed to proceed to court (see All change for children law).

Do referrals lead to mediation?

But is compulsion really going to restore mediation levels, let alone increase them? In my last blog, I noted that it required 75,000 compulsory referrals to publicly funded mediation in 2012/13 to generate 13,500 mediation starts. If we dig a little deeper into the data, we’ll see only 12% of those 75,000 referrals actually led to an agreement. This is compulsion in action.

Now, all those failed MIAMs and mediations are not without value. After all, encouraging separating parents to communicate with each other is an outright public good irrespective of whether an agreement is reached.

That said the poor relationship between referral and mediation start cannot be overlooked. A case in point is a recent poll of Resolutio

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About the author:
Marc Lopatin is a trained mediator and the founder of