As courtrooms close up and down the country, our masters are proposing hearings in all sorts of premises, including licensed ones.
But a more dignified solution may be staring us in the face. According to Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Northampton firm Hewitsons Solicitors, England and Wales’ historic cathedrals can provide the ideal venues for commercial dispute resolution.
Dominic Hopkins, partner and head of dispute resolution and litigation at Hewitsons – and also a trustee at Peterborough Cathedral – has helped develop a scheme called Mediation at the cathedral which is now taking bookings. The first venue is the Almoner’s Hall therein.
Apparently the setting is not only peaceful and conducive to putting all parties at ease, but also has stress-free access, good parking and well supported services. Parties booking mediation at the cathedral venues will also be supporting the preservation of historic heritage sites.
Hopkins says: ‘Mediation is a tried and tested tool in the toolbox of the commercial litigator, but finding somewhere suitable for the occasion, and acceptable to both parties, can be a frustratingly time-consuming process. There are many “must haves” to consider, such as convenience of location, price, accessibility, adequate technology and flexibility.’
The Association of English Cathedrals is supporting the development of a nationwide scheme.