Today, a report is published which recommends much greater use of mediation to help people to resolve disputes which otherwise end up in Scotland’s courts.
Mediation is a tried and tested process for resolving disputes It is relatively quick, informal, and cost effective and gives parties control over the process. It can result in solutions that better meet their needs than the court process can. It can also provide wider benefits, both to the parties and to society and the economy.
Although court reform has created more opportunities for mediation in civil justice, its use remains limited. There is a need to change the ‘one size fits all’ model of litigation.
Hoping things will change is not a sustainable policy and Scotland needs to adopt a more proactive approach to deliver a viable pathway to mediate civil disputes.
This report proposes a coordinated strategy for ‘normalising’ the use of mediation in the civil justice system in Scotland.
It seeks to build on existing infrastructure to minimise the cost to the public purse and to ensure mediation is embedded as seamlessly as possible.
Co-Chair John Sturrock QC said:
“In particular we note that mediation is consistent with the aspirations of the National Performance Framework and, more generally, with a society
in which people are valued, relationships are enhanced, choices are made by those most affected, constructive solutions are sought for difficult problems and financial and other resources are wisely deployed.”
Co-Chair Alun Thomas, chair of Scottish Mediation, said:
“We have no doubt that the recommendations in this report sit well with a civilised and forward-looking approach to our country’s future.”
John Downie, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) said:
“SCVO welcomes this report as a catalyst to making the justice system more inclusive, accessible and affordable.
People and communities throughout Scotland, especially the most vulnerable, find the civil justice system difficult to access and expensive. As a result, people are often put off turning to the courts to get the justice they deserve.
A culture change ‘normalising’ the use of mediation in the civil justice system, alongside the concrete ways the report recommends to achieve this goal, will ensure mediation is accessible to third sector organisations and the people they support.”
Angela Grahame QC, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, a member of the expert group, commented in a personal capacity:
“I’m delighted to be associated with this report which makes sensible and forward thinking recommendations to improve the experiences of people with disputes in Scotland and retains their right to instruct counsel.”
To read the report please click here