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Publicly funded mediation continues to decline

MIAMs attendance in November 2013 almost 60% down year-on-year

A Freedom of Information request from the Ministry of Justice shows that publicly funded family mediation is still struggling following changes to public funding in April 2013.

Recent figures, procured by LawyerSupportedMediation.com, reveal that there were 665 mediation starts in November 2013 compared with 1173 in November 2012. The 43% fall is the third highest year-on-year monthly decline since the MoJ effectively severed the link between lawyer and mediator in April last year.

Between April and November 2013, the total number of mediation starts fell by just over one-third (36%), compared to the same period in 2012.

"Help with mediation" (publicly funded legal advice available in parallel to mediation) remains almost non-existent across England and Wales. In November 2013, just six claims for payment were lodged by family lawyers with the Legal Aid Agency. This takes the total number of claims for "Help with Mediation" between April and November 2013 to a total of 26. Over the same period, 12,128 people began publicly funded mediation.

Marc Lopatin, founder of LawyerSupportedMediation.com, said:

"The Ministry of Justice has effectively driven a wedge between lawyers and mediators when it comes to encouraging the take-up of publicly-funded mediation. This is a great shame since lawyers and mediators working in tandem provide an obvious way of bringing down the cost of dispute resolution for anyone who cannot afford to hire a lawyer to resolve contested matters for them."

Earlier this month, Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes called for more parents and couples to use mediation.

Meanwhile, the number of people attending Mediation Information & Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) in November 2013 fell by 58% year-on-year. November 2013 continues a seven-month long trend where the number of couples attending MIAMs remained below half the number for the same period in 2012.

In Spring LawyerSupportedMediation.com will launch a national pilot to explore ways of lawyers and mediators working in tandem. The pilot is intended to benefit separating families who cannot afford to instruct two lawyers to negotiate a resolution to contested issues.

For the detailed figures, please click here.

16/2/14