Cambridgeshire lawyers have launched a fast-track dispute resolution scheme, thought to be only the second such scheme in the country.

The Cambridgeshire Arbitration and Mediation Scheme is aimed at disputes in which conventional litigation is uneconomic.

It is designed for claims of between £5,000 and £25,000.

The scheme provides disputing parties with case managers who then select arbitrators or mediators from a panel.

Mike Williams, a litigation partner at Cambridgeshire firm Leeds Day and one of the prime movers behind the scheme, said: 'There are an awful lot of disputes where people do not have the time or personnel to get proper redress from the courts.

'This could revolutionise the way we solve disputes in the future.'

A key feature of both the arbitration and the mediation procedures is a strict timetable to ensure the speedy resolution of the dispute.

Some disputes could be resolved in as little as 10 weeks a significant time saving on a normal court case.

Williams said that that those parties to a dispute who hoped to have a continuing relationship in the future would find the mediation route described as 'assisted negotiation' more attractive.

He said he believed that the success of the scheme depended on the vigorous marketing of it to clients.

More than 60 of the county's lawyers attended the inaugural meeting of the scheme held at the Cambridgeshire Law Society. A similar scheme is already in place in Bristol.