You are here

Automatic mediation comes to Court of Appeal

3 April 2012

An automatic mediation pilot for personal injury and contract claims worth up to £100,000 began at the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Unless a judge directs otherwise, the case will be referred automatically to the Centre for Dispute Resolution (CEDR) and dealt with by a panel of Court of Appeal mediators.

A Judicial Office spokesman said that only if there is no settlement would cases return to the Court of Appeal.

He said that if litigants in person were involved and qualified for free advice, LawWorks Mediation will arrange a pro bono legal adviser or pro bono mediation where both parties were unrepresented.

Lord Justice Rix, who led a working group to revitalise mediation at the Court of Appeal, said appeal judges regularly saw cases which could easily have been resolved at an earlier stage though the use of mediation.

“Parties may not be poles apart, but litigation can have a corrosive effect for which mediation can provide a balm,” he said. “Mediation in the Court of Appeal can save a great deal of money and anxiety”.

Tony Allen, former director of CEDR and member of the mediation working party, said: “It is sometimes felt that by the time a case has reached the Court of Appeal, the time for mediation has passed – that is not the case and has been proven not to be the case.”

Allen said a “substantial number” of appeals had already been successfully mediated.

“Another incentive for parties in the pilot will be that if they fail to make any effort towards mediation, this may be taken into account by the judges who eventually hear the appeal when it comes to awarding costs against parties for their conduct during the appeal.

“Case law provides for the possibility of costs sanctions in such circumstances.”

Categorised in:

Courts & Judiciary