Government announces plans to redirect thousands of civil legal disputes away from court

The Government revealed in a press release on 26 July 2022 proposals to reform the civil justice system which may save people costs, time and stress of long court battles. If the proposals go ahead it could mean mediation is made compulsory for small claims of up to £10,000. People would be directed to an hour-long free telephone call with a professional mediator supplied by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) before their matter can proceed to a hearing.

During the session, both parties would talk separately to the mediator to ascertain whether there is common ground between them. If both parties come to a resolution, then both parties will agree over the phone for it to be made legally binding in a settlement agreement.

It is anticipated this change could result in around 20,000 extra cases every year being settled away from court, saving people time and costs of litigation. The change would also free up crucial court capacity, with up to 7,000 judicial sitting days being made available for other cases. The Government estimates around 272,000 people should be able to access the free mediation.

The proposals are detailed in a Government consultation published on 26 July 2022. It will close on 4 October 2022.