In its haste to channel disputes through mediation and control the process centrally the government is killing off successful local schemes and jeopardising its own objective, says Jeremy Ferguson

In 2002 my local county court judge asked the Devon and Exeter Law Society, of which I was the vice president, to assist small claims litigants because the court had been unable to cope with the very large increase in litigants in person brought about by the raising of the small claims limit.

We offered to provide small claims civil assistance advice for litigants in person but the presiding judge of the Exeter Group of Courts explained that while such a scheme was approved in principle, the court required society members taking part in the scheme to be trained as mediators and to undertake mediation for small claims litigants.

So the society laid on a day’s training for civil mediators, undertaken by Andrew Frayley, an exper...

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