Welcome to the latest edition of ADR News. This bulletin is packed with the latest news from government, important dates for your diary, and gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts with us on MIAMs and Litigants in Person.
Government response to FJR on dispute resolution - key points
The government has published its response to the Family Justice Review, available here. The Family Justice Review Final Report which was published in November 2011 highlighted a range of issues in the current system and proposed far-reaching reforms. The government plans to accept the majority of the Panel’s recommendations. The key points from a dispute resolution perspective are:
• Generally out of court resolution of disputes will receive much government encouragement
• As anticipated the term “Dispute Resolution Services” has been adopted by the government with immediate effect with a view to putting non court based services on a par with court service. The Resolution ADR Committee has already been renamed as the Dispute Resolution Committee.
• The government will bring in legislation to reinforce the Pre-application Protocol.
• Mediators will need to be skilled at assessment and signposting to different services where appropriate and they will be the “key practitioner”
• Training and accreditation of mediators will need to be reviewed, adapted and harmonised.
• PIPs will be made available to parents as part of the pre-court dispute resolution process.
• The government will look carefully at the recommendations in the interim report of the review of the FMC due out in March 2012.
• The amount of funding available for publicly funded mediation will increase by £10M to £25M.
• The government will consider setting up a public law mediation pilot with other stakeholders.
Resolution currently expects the government to develop any legislative provisions (subject to parliamentary timings) between May and September this year.
An online hub for those using the family justice system is expected to be available, though not with full content, by Spring 2013.
Resolution is already engaged with officials working on all these areas and seeking to challenge the workability of certain areas or influence the detail of implementation.
New research project: Mapping Paths to Family Justice. Can you help?
Researchers at the universities of Exeter and Kent are looking to interview Family Practitioners (by telephone) about their experiences of solicitor negotiation, mediation and/or collaborative law dispute resolution.
The project (funded by the ESRC) aims to provide critical evidence about the usage, experience and outcomes of these three different forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution of private family law matters, at a time when these alternatives to court are likely to become increasingly used. Longer term, it hopes to provide an evidence base to inform future decisions by policy-makers, funders, practitioners and disputing couples.
You can find out more about the project here.
The project team would also like to interview parties who have been through any of these processes since 1996 and to analyse recordings of some of these processes. If you may be interested in taking part in the study yourself or are able to advertise the project to clients or colleagues, or would offer a dispute resolution session for recording (subject to consent of all parties and with a small payment available to lay participants), please contact Associate Research Fellow, Kate Getliffe email@example.com or telephone 01392 726439 leaving a clear message with your contact details.
The interview will take 45 minutes to an hour and participants will receive a ten pound voucher.
MoJ Family Mediation Steering Group
This group is looking at some aspects of the government response to the FJR in detail and looking forward will be assisting the MoJ to develop these areas. In particular the review refers to mediators being “key practitioners” and this role is being analysed and defined by the group. Another area the group will be exploring is consistency of practice over MIAMs and the filling in of the form FM1 around the country
Don't forget to complete the MIAMs survey, and be in with a chance of winning a bottle of champagne!
On 6 April this year it will be one year from the introduction of mediation assessment meetings for applicants at the point of issuing proceedings. We need to know how the initiative is working across the country, get a rough idea of how many assessments are being undertaken and find out what regional differences are emerging. This information will help to shape the future of MIAMs moving forward. So far 99 of you have responded, so thanks to all who have so far, but we'd really appreciate it if even more of you could share your thoughts. Please click here to go to the survey.
Litigants in Person research
As highlighted in our last e-bulletin Resolution, has agreed to help with a study being carried out by Richard Moorhead of Cardiff Law School with Mark Sefton (independent researcher) Chris Fox (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Judith Siddaway (independent researcher). The study examines what will happen if Litigants in Person are no longer able to access independent advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau in the Principal Registry in the Family Division.
The Study is being conducted for the Bureau. As you will be aware, the rise in Litigants in Person is a major concern for us – and the judiciary – in the light of many family law issues being taken out of scope for legal aid under the new legislation currently going through Parliament. So any way in which we can help in shaping this debate should be welcomed.
The survey includes some general questions at the beginning, followed by two case studies (these are randomly selected from a bank of different scenarios), on which you will be asked for your opinion on what the likely outcome will be. You are also able to make comments. Its findings will provide part of a report to Citizens Advice, and, depending on the findings, will help demonstrate the concerns around Litigants in Person held by so many of our members. The survey can be found here and shouldn’t take more than ten minutes if you complete the two requested case study questions.
Family Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2012
All members should note that the Family Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2012 have been laid before Parliament and are available on the Legislation UK website here. The Rules are SI 679 of 2012 and come into force on 6 April 2012
Date for your diary - Dispute Resolution Conference 2012
This year's conference will take place on 27 and 28 September in Oxford. Further details including the agenda and speaker line-up will be communicated shortly.
We're running a PPC Foundation course on 27 and 28 March in London. Please book your place via the training and events section, in the member's area of our website.
Please continue to check the website for training opportunities, as new courses are always posted here first. There are a number of new advanced dispute resolution courses scheduled for trained mediators and collaborative lawyers including:-
- Direct consultation with children
- She just won’t listen, he just doesn’t understand
- Stuck in conflict
- Screening, safety and safeguarding in ADR
- The other side of truth
- PPC training and networking days