The Success of Family Mediation Vouchers.
Wayne Cartlidge (Student)
In March 2021 the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) introduced a new scheme in the UK, which was designed to try and help families whose cases would usually end up in court, to work together and ensure that the case did not go to court.
The trial scheme using ‘mediation vouchers’ was introduced to try and minimise the number of family disputes that end up going to court. Following the trial period, the Ministry of justice have hailed the trial a success and have further announced that they will make a decision to see if the scheme is to continue ‘in the very near future’.
Since March 2021, the MoJ have revealed that the vouchers have been used by and supported more than 13,500 families. From this number, the MoJ revealed that in two-thirds of those cases a whole or partial agreement was reached away from the court room.
Families who used the scheme were entitled to apply for a £500 voucher towards the cost of the mediation sessions.
During the sessions, the parties would attend a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) with a trained mediator. Following the initial meeting, the mediator provides an assessment on whether or not they believe that the family’s case would be eligible and suitable for mediation. If the mediator decides that the case would be suitable, it would be the mediator who applies for the voucher, and this is then paid directly to the mediator once the mediation sessions have finished.
Prior to this scheme, government data showed that referrals for mediation had dropped after the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) came into force. According to the MoJ latest statistical report, MIAM’s currently stand at around a third of pre-LASPO levels, with family mediation starts being around half of pre-LASPO levels.
Here at SULAC we can advise on family matters and have close links with local mediators. If you would like an appointment please call 01782 294800 or email SULAC@staffs.ac.uk