Exchange Chambers first into mediation

Exchange Chambers is gearing up to become the first set to launch a dedicated mediation group as the bar explores radical new ways to shore up its position in the post-Woolf landscape.

The 90-barrister set laid the groundwork last week when a third of its members became accredited mediators.

The top 30 chambers has now put the wheels in motion to launch a mediation group as a separate non-core business within the next few months.

Bill Braithwaite QC, joint head of chambers and an accredited mediator, told The Lawyer: “Judicial pressure, along with a growing realisation of the cost benefits of using alternative dispute resolution [ADR], has led to a dramatic increase in the number of cases being resolved through mediation.”

Chambers director Tom Handley said: “In a changing legal market this provides us with a significant competitive advantage.”

A decade ago Lord Woolf recommended a shake-up in the dispute resolution arena with the aim of avoiding “slow, expensive and unpredictable” litigation in favour of ADR.

In the past year the bar has seen a huge surge in chambers creating dedicated arbitration practices to cope with the drop in litigation. One senior clerk told The Lawyer: “Exchange Chambers have made innovative use of Woolf’s reforms. There are many other chambers thinking about this.”