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Mediation does not work!

It is because of the association with reasonableness and compromise mediation receives widespread support. But mediation simply does not work that was the conclusion of the most comprehensive and exhaustive three year research report set up by the Lord Chancellor's Department and completed in December 2000.

According to the Lord Chief Justice at the time, Lord Justice Woolf, court appointed mediation was supposed to 'change the landscape' for civil litigation;

1. Litigation will be avoided wherever possible. 2. Litigation will be less adversarial and more co-operative. 3. Litigation will be less complex. 4.
The time scale of litigation will be shorter and more certain. 5. The cost of litigation will be more affordable, more predictable, and more proportionate to the value and complexity of individual cases. 6. Parties of limited financial means will be able to conduct litigation on a more equal footing. 7. There will be clear lines of judicial and administrative responsibility for the civil justice system. 8. The structure of the courts and the deployment of judges will be designed to meet the needs of litigants. 9. Judges will be deployed effectively so that they can manage litigation in accordance with the new rules and protocols. 10. The civil justice system will be more responsive to the needs of litigants.

But the research into mediation showed;

30.5 Accordingly there is little prospect of mediation replacing lawyers – or certainly not of its replacing them effectively. That is not to say that mediators cannot provide a valuable service to some couples, but unfortunately the policy debate has tended to focus upon diversion from legal services. Our evidence suggests that in order to have a significant impact upon the volume of legal activity, and upon legal costs, these matters have to be tackled directly

31.3 Mediation may prove to be a cost-effective option in resolving some disputes, at a particular point. It can only achieve this where both parties commit themselves to the process. In other circumstances mediation is likely to prove an additional cost.

31.4 This calls for good case selection and, secondly, for a system of referral which secures the engagement of both parties. Timing is
critical. There is plentiful evidence, in the UK and abroad, that mandatory referral to mediation which follows immediately upon the parties seeking legal help is not effective as a means of securing legal settlement. Equally there is evidence that court-sponsored mediation which follows earlier attempts to negotiate on a bi-partisan basis can indeed ‘work’ in these terms.

31.6 A second strategy might be to promote mediation as a genuine alternative to litigation. Separating couples might be informed of its existence, and its potential benefits. One could conceive of a number of potential ‘information points’, without requiring people to attend a special meeting for this purpose. Mediation on this level would be judged by its ability to provide a service which people value. Government sponsorship is compatible with this, but it would be unrealistic to expect these services to have much impact upon the demand for lawyer advice, negotiation and representation. Mediation would be supported as a separate, parallel system, with its own distinctive and worthwhile features.

Despite the ineffectiveness of mediation it still continues to receive UK
Government support, because of the association with reasonableness and compromise, as well as the belief that spiraling legal costs will be reduced. 

The Children and Families Act 2014 made mediation compulsory for applicants, usually fathers. Also judges and magistrates now act as 'gatekeepers' under the new law deciding whether  fathers have met the necessary threshold of mediation before they can make an application to the Family Court to see their child or children. These new measures have more to do with reducing spiraling legal costs than reasonableness and compromise.