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Mediations handled by CEDR Solve increased by 35 per cent last year, despite widespread feelings that the process is not a viable alternative to court litigation.
The number of mediations at the body run by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) rose from 469 in 2002 to 631 in 2003. The biggest increase was in commercial mediations, rising from 387 to 478.
Some senior litigators believe that although there is pressure on them to mediate following Lord Woolf’s 1999 reforms to the Civil Procedure Rules, the process does not result in success. However, CEDR reports a 75 per cent settlement rate on the day or soon after the mediation. In one case, a 15-year court dispute was resolved in one day of mediation.
‘Scheme cases’ – bodies including Birmingham County Court, the Court of Appeal and Esso that have agreed to assign mediations to CEDR – rose by 86 per cent to 153 in 2003.
CEDR partly attributes recent growth in mediations to the Dunnett v Railtrack decision in 2002, in which a party was fined for failing to agree to mediation. However, in 2003, 81 per cent of mediations were referred by mutual consent of both parties, compared with 74 per cent in 2002.