Mediation course sees first batch of lawyers

FIFTEEN lawyers are expected to attend the first training event of the new Divorce Mediation and Arbitration Centre in London next month.

The week-long course will provide the first step in qualifying solicitors and barristers for membership of a national panel of mediators and arbitrators.

Open to family law solicitors of 10 years' standing and barristers of more than 12 years' call, the course can be followed by a one-day workshop and a further advanced course leading to qualification for the panel. On acceptance, members of the panel will be paid u300 per hour for their services.

Through the centre, the Institute of Family Mediation and Arbitration aims to resolve family law disputes outside the courtroom.

Clients, who will retain legal advisers, will be taken through a process of mediation and, if unsuccessful, they will move on to arbitration.

Divorce barrister Caroline Willbourne, of 1 Garden Court and one of the centre's founders, says the service will avoid expensive trials in financial cases after procedural steps such as disclosure have been completed.