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You must mediate!

Not too long ago it was an accepted truth that in order to be properly successful mediation had to involve voluntary participation.

From 29 April 2024 under a new provision entitled “encouraging non-court dispute resolution” the courts will take a more robust attitude to making sure that parties to proceedings have properly considered mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”). There is already a power for this but it is not much used.

It is true that all too often the exemptions to mediation have been stretched so that some cases that could probably have benefited from mediation were railroaded down the court route. Every responsible family lawyer will consider ADR with their clients but every responsible family lawyer knows lawyers who are more interested in litigation than resolution.

We can expect the court to look much more closely at these situations in future and potentially adjourn or give other directions requiring parties to take part in mediation sessions.

Ian is the Senior Partner and Head of Family Law at SME Solicitors. Please contact him, Joanna Gardner or Denise McCabe for specialist help and advice in all aspects of family law at or or

Added: 26 Jan 2024 14:39

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