Sir Andrew MacFarlane, President of the Family Division has recently warned that Family Lawyers are “running flat out up a down escalator” as the system is being overrun due to the increased backlog of cases being heard in the Family Court.
A potential means of alleviating these stresses on the courts and reaching a cheaper and faster conclusion for clients is through Alternative Dispute Resolution processes such as Mediation.
Mediation is the voluntary process by which parties appoint an independent and neutral mediator to assist parties in reaching a resolution to their matter. A mediator will meet with both parties and assists in identifying issues in dispute, and managing the discussion between parties to reach a settlement. The process is confidential and Mediators give information with regard to the law, but do not offer advice to individuals.
It is through Mediation that parties can reach a resolution that provides clarity and closure in a much swifter and cheaper manner than through court processes. An increased trust and commitment to Mediation will inevitably reduce the strain on those individuals involved, as well as the courts.
It is also recommended at Mediation that parties obtain separate legal advice prior to or concurrent to the process.