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Manches is setting up a network of firms that divorcing clients can turn to for mediation after the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) last week unveiled a directive aimed at keeping divorce cases out of court.
From 6 April all divorcing couples will have to attend a mediation awareness session before they are allowed to use the courts. Because Manches would advise its clients on any litigation that may ensue, its partners would not be able to act as mediators.
Manches family partner Joanne Edwards said: “From a purely commercial perspective it means you’re not losing the client and potential litigation fees, but you’re making the lawyers less lawyerly and happy to send clients to each other in an informal way.
“You don’t lose the client. What the client gets from the mediator is an understanding in principle, which is also sent to their lawyer. The client still needs advice.
“I want to send my clients to a similar firm so I’ll be better able to determine whether their case is suitable for mediation.”
It is understood that leading family law firms Farrer & Co and Withers will be among the first invited to participate in the group.
The initiative comes as the MoJ consults on proposals to cut legal aid from the family court system.
Family judges will encourage greater use of mediation for all litigants as part of the drive to unclog the courts.