Irwin Mitchell opens mediation floodgates

Solicitors, insurers and the Solicitors' Indemnity Fund (SIF) have all welcomed Irwin Mitchell's successful bid to overturn the Legal Aid Board's (LAB's) ban on legal aid funding for mediation.

Irwin Mitchell's challenge, conceded by the LAB's costs and appeal's committee last Tuesday, is expected to open the floodgates to thousands of mediated settlements.

SIF communications head Sharon Bolton said mediation was very suitable for SIF cases because it was less formal and less confrontational than going to court.

She said SIF had used mediation in 100 out of 12,000 completed cases in the previous two years, but hoped this figure would increase now legal aid was available.

Andrew Lockley, head of professional services at Irwin Mitchell, led the challenge, which was funded by the Law Society and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Group.

It arose from a compensation claim brought by a Barnsley accountant against his former employers.

Lockley said Irwin Mitchell was currently handling at least two legally aided cases which suited mediation.