I read your contrasting Comment pieces about family mediation with interest.
I am a family solicitor, dealing mainly with divorce finances, and a director of Family Mediation Manchester, the largest contracted supplier of legal aid mediation in England. I have seen the catastrophic effects of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act from both sides.
There will be a huge underspend by the Ministry of Justice in 2013-2014 of the millions put aside to fund legally aided mediation. This is because the carefully nurtured referral networks between solicitors and mediation services were ruptured by LASPO.
I have a suggestion for the MoJ. Why not fund mediation information and assessment meetings for everyone: starting when the new requirement for applicants to attend a MIAM comes into force in late April; and lasting either for a year, or until the money runs out?
This would begin a culture change, so parties to family proceedings find out about mediation early on. This is government policy, and what used to happen for many seeking legal aid.
Judges cannot cope with the likely increased levels of litigants in person, and courts are understaffed. Why not divert potential applicants before they have paid a court fee to a free MoJ-funded service?
Nina Fedorski, solicitor and family mediator, Just Solutions Family Mediation Ltd, Stockport