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Resolution calls for full review into the impact of LASPO

Mediation agreements at 60% of pre-LASPO levels

Speaking in response to the latest legal aid statistics, Nigel Shepherd, Chair of Resolution said:

"We believe everyone should have access to justice, and remain concerned that LASPO continues to put this at risk for thousands of separating couples.

"The [latest] legal aid statistics tell a very clear story: the government's strategy is not working. The number of mediation assessments is down 14% compared to the same period in 2015, showing that fewer people are getting help to resolve matters out of court, contrary to the government's stated objectives.

"Of course, the numbers are only part of the story, and regardless of how many people are accessing mediation, the outcomes for those families are absolutely crucial. The statistics show that mediations that result in agreements are 62% of what they were before LASPO.

"This shows that not only are fewer people accessing legally-aided mediation, but within those reduced numbers, couples are less likely to reach agreement as a result. This may well be because they are now not receiving the support and reassurance that comes from getting independent legal advice during and after the mediation. Despite the fact that there is still some limited legal aid available for this support, in the aftermath of the legal aid cuts, I suspect many are not aware of it.

"We call on the government to take steps to urgently remedy this, including looking at funding for other forms of dispute resolution, and to immediately carry out the full review into the impact of LASPO that was promised when the reforms were introduced now over three years ago."

The latest statistics published by the Ministry of Justice show that the number of MIAMs were down by 14% in the last quarter compared to the previous year and appear to be stabilising at around half of pre-LASPO levels. The majority of couples attend assessment meetings separately.

While the number of mediation starts initially fell by a similar proportion to assessments following LASPO, starts have recovered somewhat and are now around 60% of pre-LASPO levels. Like other areas of mediation, agreements between the parties fell following LASPO and are now at about 60% of pre-LASPO levels.

Mediations in the 'all issues' category can reach full agreement, where agreement is reached on all issues, or partial agreement, wherein an agreement has been reached on either children or property and finance, but not both. As such, successful agreements include both partial agreements and full agreements. Over the last year 62% of all mediation outcomes involved successful agreements. The rate of success varied between different categories of mediation, with the highest proportion of agreements (66%) in the children category.