Is the government really serious about mediation? As one of the largest family law practices in Bristol, we have encouraged the use of mediation and collaborative law wherever possible. One of the unexpected consequences of the abolition of legal aid for family law from April 2013 is that the use of mediation will dramatically decline.
In the mediation practice which I also work for, over 95% of referrals come from family legal aid practices. This is because mediation is actively encouraged in these practices. It is also a condition of applying for a legal aid certificate that a referral should be made to a mediation organisation. With the abolition of legal aid, there will be considerably fewer people seeking advice because of the cost.
Those few that seek legal advice will not be compelled to be referred to mediation. Although the government says that they believe in mediation and are to put more money aside for mediation, their actions will do the opposite. The number of referrals to mediation organisations will therefore decline.
Jim Gridley, Kirby Sheppard, Bristol