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Mediation: Pilot Schemes

Volume 461: debated on Monday 4 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will take steps to increase the number of family law mediation schemes in England and Wales. (140270)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government believe that mediation can have considerable advantages over going to court in the settling of family disputes, especially where children are involved. There are already around 10 in-court referral schemes, where family mediators work together with CAFCASS and the courts to refer appropriate cases for mediation. We are also planning 10 judicial awareness seminars across England and Wales aimed at raising awareness among judges and magistrates. The Family Mediation Helpline began operating in January 2006. To date, it has received 2,800 calls and made over 800 referrals to mediation services; around 10,000 visits have been made to the supporting website.

Legal Services Commission figures tell us that publicly funded mediations have increased from 406 in 1997-98 to 14,000 in 2005-06; public funding for mediation has increased from £0.5 million in 1997-98 to £13.8 million in 2005-06. Mediation results in a resolution of all the issues involved in 60 per cent. of publicly funded cases where it is used.