The government has launched a major call for evidence to seek views on the future of family, business and other civil dispute resolution.
Evidence will be gathered from parties such as the judiciary, legal profession, mediators and other conflict resolvers, academics and the advice sector.
Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC MP, said he was “delighted” to launch the call for evidence: “We want the public, families and businesses to be able to resolve disputes easily and with as little stress as possible – avoiding often lengthy and costly court battles”.
Ministers said technology and dispute resolution will be “at the heart” of the future system. The government will examine whether new technologies and mediation and conciliation services will provide “smarter and less adversarial” resolution.
Responses to the call for evidence will “shape future reforms” of civil, family and administrative justice, said the government.
Justice Minister, Lord Wolfson, said: “With nearly 30 years of experience as a commercial lawyer, I know the benefits of finding amicable agreements early to help parties move on constructively.
“Too often the courts aren’t the best means for reaching such outcomes. That is why we want to improve the range of options available to people to resolve their issues, ensuring less adversarial routes are considered the norm rather than the alternative.
“I urge anyone with an interest to contribute to this call for evidence, which will help us to create a better and fairer justice system as we build back from the pandemic”.
The government acknowledged some cases will inevitably require court-based litigation and this will always remain an option, but it wants “a greater range of options to settle disagreements proactively and constructively – via routes most appropriate for their particular case”.
The government cited research which showed more than 70 per cent of those who use mediation services will resolve their issues outside of a courtroom.
It said in 2019, three per cent of the two million civil proceedings issued went to trial, which demonstrated the majority of claims may be resolved without the need for a judgment.
The call for evidence will last eight weeks and closes on 30 September 2021.