The Court of Appeal (CoA) is to pilot a mediation scheme for all personal injury and contract claims up to the value of £100,000 for which permission to appeal is given.
The Court of Appeal Mediation Scheme (CAMS) will be managed by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR).
Under the plans parties will be expected to mediate disputes unless the presiding judge says otherwise. If both parties agree to mediate, a panel of accredited CAMS mediators will be nominated by CEDR. The selected mediator will bring the parties together to try to reach a settlement. If there is a settlement, the case will not go back to the CoA.
Lord Justice Rix is driving forward the scheme as part of the Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger’s aim to revitalise the CAMS scheme. He said the scheme would speed up potential settlements and save litigation costs.
Rix LJ commented: “Judges regularly see cases in the Court of Appeal which could easily have been resolved at an earlier stage through the use of mediation. Parties may not be poles apart, but litigation can have a corrosive effect for which mediation can provide a balm.
“Mediation in the Court of Appeal can save a great deal of money and anxiety.”
CEDR senior consultant Tony Allen said judges would take into consideration whether the parties had made efforts to settle during costs discussions should the matters proceed to full trial.
He said: “Another incentive for parties in the pilot will be that if they fail to make any effort towards mediation, this may be taken into account by the judges who eventually hear the appeal when it comes to awarding costs against parties for their conduct during the appeal.”
The pilot began earlier this week (2 April) and will run for a year. It will be monitored by CEDR and the evaluation will be considered by the senior judiciary.
When litigants in person are involved in the appeal, and qualify for free legal help, LawWorks Mediation will seek to arrange a pro bono legal adviser for them for the mediation and, if necessary, a pro bono mediation as well where there are two unrepresented parties.
Head of LawWorks mediation Lavinia Shaw-Brown: “We’ll do our best to assist litigants in person whose case falls within the pilot and who qualify for our free help. It’s not fair that lack of funds is the only barrier to a successful mediation being conducted.”