Mediation “not always the answer”

The Law Society is confident that it can win its fight against compulsory mediation in the Family Law Bill, after two rebel Conservative MPs tabled an amendment against the clause last week.

Edward Leigh and Teresa Gorman's amendment could mean a vote on the issue, expected this week, will swing in favour of scrapping the compulsory mediation clause.

The Law Society and the Labour Party both believe that by forcing the use of mediation individuals will be denied access to the services best suited to them. The Law Society also says that because of the current limited use of mediation a sudden expansion will be impractical.

Parliamentary officer at the Law Society Chris Philipsborn said: “There are still too few mediators to deal with mediation on a compulsory, national scale and there is a lack of funding. In Bristol, for example, there are 200 family lawyers and only 12 accredited mediators.”

Chair of the Solicitors Family Law Association Nigel Shepherd said: “In mediation the unscrupulous can take advantage of the weaker party in the marriage.”

In a survey commissioned last year by the SFLA among 1,100 people undergoing divorce, nearly half said they would not be comfortable going through mediation.