United Kingdom

There is no primary legislation for mediation in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland.  The development of mediation is due to spontaneous growth, some court auxiliary schemes, some Government statements and encouragement and incentives promoted by court judgments, principally in relation to the award of costs.

Regarding the Mediation Directive 2008/52 the Ministry of Justice (ex-Lord Chancellor’s Department) confirms that the Directive will only apply to cross-border disputes within the EU.

How the Directive shall apply:
Art. 4    - Quality control and training.  The Government does not consider it necessary to introduce any measures for training or codes of conduct since private organisations and court annexed schemes both insist on this for candidates for inclusion in their lists.  The lone mediator is thus not controlled.

Art. 5    - Encouragement of mediation by courts.  Advice on appropriate dispute resolution is a professional duty.  There is a general disposition by judges to encourage mediation in civil and commercial cases.  In divorce cases the standard procedure is to invite, but not to force, parties to attend an ADR information session in the early stages of matrimonial proceedings.  The principal incentive in civil and commercial cases (but not divorce) is the possible denial of the award of costs to a victorious but uncooperative party.  There is a court assisted scheme for mediation for small claims of up to £5000.

Art. 6    - Enforcement of agreements reached in mediation. Revisions to English Civil Procedure Rules effective from 6 April 2011.  Mediation settlement enforcement order (MSEO) requires explicit consent of the parties and application to court.  CPR Pt 23 where proceedings are pending,  CPR Pt 8 where there are no proceedings.  Practice Direction 78, Rule 78.24 applies European Order for Payment which allows court vetting of relief sought (arts. 8 & 10, Reg 1896/2006), no exequatur.

Art. 7    - Confidentiality.  The Directive does not address confidentiality, but the privilege of a mediator not to be compelled to testify on matters learnt during a mediation. Case of Farm Assist v DEFRA [2009] could be at variance with Directive, but in EU cases judge would apply overriding considerations of public policy as in Directive.  CPR 5.4C ensures that MSEO documents cannot be disclosed to third party.

Art. 8    - Limitation periods.  An amendment has been introduced for cross-border mediations  suspending for the period of the mediation, plus eight weeks for reactivation, any final limitation date.  For UK disputes, parties must either agree extension or one party must file protective claim.

The Ministry of Justice has made clear its strong endorsement of mediation for purposes of allocation of scarce resources.  This has been emphasised in various reports on the civil justice system, and first became a significant feature of Government policy with the “ADR Statement” by the Prime Minister in 2003, now the “Dispute Resolution Commitment” which requires all public contracting entities to be “pro-active” in using “effective, proportionate and appropriate forms of Dispute Resolution”.

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