Court mediation: What is it and when can we use it?

Court action, as we all know, can be costly and time-consuming and the courts, as much as the parties involved, would always prefer a quicker, less painful way of resolving a dispute.

It’s a key reason why the court mediation service exists.

The service, run by the civil courts, is a relatively pain-free and effective way of settling many small claims disputes up to a value of £10,000 without the need for a potentially stressful court hearing.

Here’s how it works:

When a defence to a claim is filed, parties will be asked via a questionnaire if they want to use small claims mediation. It can only go ahead if both sides agree.

Mediation usually takes place over the telephone and lasts up to an hour. It is supervised by a court official who is not a judge and may not even know too many details about the case.

Skilled negotiator

He or she will, however, be a skilled negotiator who will be focused on re-establishing relationship between the parties and arriving at an agreement that’s satisfactory to everyone, rather than pointing fingers at who may be right or wrong.

Mediation, as we know from our experience of using it as part of our own services, is most effective when both sides are prepared to be open and honest about how a dispute may have arisen; a proper settlement can only be reached if they are both ready to compromise and be sensible.

If an agreement is reached, the mediator will record all the details and inform the court service. If a claim is not settled, it will proceed to trial – though any matters raised during mediation cannot be repeated to a judge as they are classed as privileged information.

If you’d like to know more about mediation and how it works, get in touch with us at [email protected]