Government response to Family Mediation Taskforce report
Simon Hughes letter to mediators and others working in the family justice system (PDF)
This letter outlines MOJ's response to the independent Task Force's report published in June 2014 (below). The recommendations the Government has agreed to take forward include:
Funding ‘one single mediation session for everyone’, if one of the parties is already legally aided. (At present only the legally aided party can have the session for free, meaning there is a cost for the other member of the couple, which can deter them from taking part)
Setting up an advisory group of experts to improve practice and make sure mediation is focussed on the best outcomes for any children involved
Reviewing future Legal Aid Agency (LAA) contracts with mediation providers to improve service
Exploring options for reforming the management of the mediation sector, and
Expanding the ongoing campaign to increase awareness of mediation and legal help for mediation, and the availability of legal aid for it.
Family Mediation Task Force report published
The Family Mediation Task Force considered all ideas put forward during the two roundtable meetings, the webchat and through this Dialogue and many feature in the Task Force's report.
Family Mediation Task Force report (PDF)
Of the top 5 ideas, as voted by you, on this Dialogue, the Task Force has recommended that the following be taken forward:
Advertising/Education campaign to spread the word - The Task Force has recommended the Government undertakes a sustained low level campaign to increase awareness
Review Legal Aid Eligibility Rules - The Task Force has recommended the Government changes legal aid rules so that the value of people's property does not need to be considered as part of the eligibility test for mediation and removing the need for solicitors' providing support as part of the mediation process to re-check a client's eligibility.
Other ideas you submitted on the Dialogue that the Task Force has also recommended are:
Free MIAMS for all - The Task Force has recommended free Mediation, Information and Assessment Meetings for everyone involved in a relevant family dispute for a period of twelve months
MoJ Website Location - The Task Force has welcomed the consideration being given by the Ministry of Justice to creating a single authoritative, lively and interactive web presence and help line - this has been partly delivered by the relaunch of the FMC Website
Other ideas that the Task Force are developing further, but which are not featured in their report, are:
Encouraging courts to compete as out-of-court dispute resolution champions for promoting mediation
A more co-ordinated approach to supporting separated families across departments and use of consistent messaging.
The Report has been submitted to the Ministry of Justice for ministers to consider and they will respond in due course.
We want to encourage more people to use family mediation to help them resolve their disputes.
There are already a number of good things being done such as:
Working with the family mediation council (FMC) on redeveloping their website to make it a public source of information on family mediation
Working with the FMC to improve how mediators are accredited
Produced a public information video and leaflets about family mediation
Changing the law to make it compulsory for people applying to the family courts to consider family mediation first
Produced a toolkit for mediators to use to promote themselves locally
What we want now are your ideas about what more government, the mediation profession and individual mediators can do to encourage people to use mediation.
Ideas can be as innovative as you like, the only ground rules are that they must:
(In these chastened times), not mean significant extra cost
Be relevant to the question we have asked and not go of topic (we will remove ideas that are not relevant to this question)
Do check the ideas already submitted to see if what you are thinking of adding has already been covered, if it has then rather than submitting it again perhaps add a comment or vote on it.
Not got an idea? Then no problem you don't have to submit an idea, you can simply comment and vote on what others have already submitted.
What we'll do
We will take the top 5 ideas, as voted by you and that follow the rules of the dialogue, and take them to the Mediation Taskforce, chaired by David Norgrove, Chair of the Family Justice Board, to consider and, if appropriate, develop them as part of the Mediation Action Plan.
They will then be presented to Simon Hughes, Family Justice Minister, at the next Ministerial Roundtable.
So please submit your ideas and comments about what more can be done, locally and nationally, to encourage more people to use family mediation to resolve their disputes.