Our latest Freedom of Information request from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) shows publicly funded family mediation still reeling following changes to public funding in April 2013.
Figures show there were 665 mediation starts for November 2013 compared with 1173 in November 2012. The 43% fall is the third highest year-on-year monthly since the MoJ effectively severed the link between lawyer and mediator in April last year.
By way of example, “Help with mediation” (publicly funded legal advice available in parallel to mediation) remains almost non-existent across the UK. In November 2013, just six claims for payment were lodged by family lawyers with the Legal Aid Agency. This takes the total number of claims for “Help with Mediation” between April and November 2013 to a grand total of 26.
By comparison, at least 6,064 people received legal aid when attending publicly funded mediation. The data shows hardly any received legal advice and/or the drafting a consent order from a legal aid family lawyer.
Between April and November 2013, the total number of mediation starts fell by just over one-third (36%), compared to the same period in 2012.
Meanwhile, the number of people attending Mediation Information & Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) in November 2013 fell by 58% year-on-year. November 2013 continues a seven-month long trend where the number of couples attending MIAMs remained below half the number for the same period in 2012.
In Spring, we will launch a national pilot to explore ways of lawyers and mediators working in tandem. The pilot is intended to benefit separating families who cannot afford to instruct two lawyers to negotiate a resolution to contested issues.
If you are a family lawyer and would like information about joining the pilot, please contact us on 020 7812 9984 or contact us here.