Practitioners back divorce mediation

FAMILY lawyers across Europe have supported the Lord Chancellor's decision to include mediation in his reform of divorce law, recommending an international instrument in the field.

Last week's third European conference on family law agreed with the decision to scrap the requirement for grounds for divorce, and endorsed Lord Mackay's proposals for family mediation.

Speaking at the Council for Family Proceedings' conference in London, Lord Mackay said he was “very encouraged” by the positive stand of conference delegates.

He attempted to dispel rumours that the Government

intends to remove access to independent legal advice and assistance for people who choose to mediate.

“My concern is that people should have access to the services and assistance that they need, when they need them,” he said.

“Certainly the role of lawyers will change. Some mediation clients will wish to conduct their divorce entirely without the help of lawyers but most, as at present, will value some independent and personal legal advice.

“What is important is that the contribution of the lawyer should be to assist the mediation process rather than to undermine it.”