Always reliable and accurate, with a good turnaround speed.
Paul Bunting, Partner, Aspinall Wright Solicitors
Some 15 years ago, a system of mediation was introduced into Canada’s Family Law process. Here, Andrew Brough from our Newcastle Office considers the introduction of a similar scheme into the public law process (England and Wales) on a voluntary basis: and asks, creative innovation or miss?
The purpose of the introduction of Settlement Conferences into the public law legal process in England & Wales was to see whether or not disputed matters raised and not resolved at the Issues Resolution Hearing (hereafter referred to as IRH), and which were destined to be carried forward to a Final Hearing, could be settled in the interim. Should these prove to be effective, if all the issues could be agreed between the parties concerned, then the need for a Final Hearing could be avoided, or matters remaining unresolved would, along with the rest of the case, proceed to Final Hearing. A similar system has been conducted in Liverpool meanwhile, and it is now rolled out to other named areas of England & Wales.
Parameters were established appertaining to the conduct of this system, namely:
It is to be expected that the introduction of this will attract both positive and negative feedback. It appears that to date, most comment has been negative, based on opinion rather than results. No doubt that, had the system been unsuitable then it would not have been retained for the length of time it has in Canada – or perhaps the Canadian legal profession have adopted an attitude of ‘live with it’.
However, the intention is there to try out, and the concerns expressed can be addressed and the faults, if such there are, remedied as they occur, particularly if they are approached with positivity and a determination to give Settlement Conferences a ‘fair trial’. The profession and the justice system generally has nothing to lose, and much to gain, particularly if lessons learned along the way are used to improve results.
In conclusion, the fact that it is a voluntary procedure, the agreement of the parties to attend, exhibits some modicum of intention to settle, even if only in part. The purpose of such conferences is more for the benefit of the parties concerned, than for the benefit of their legal representatives.
Andrew Brough is based at our Newcastle Office where he undertakes a mixed case load of publicly funded, civil inter partes and commercial matters. Andrew has a BA (Hons) Accounting & Law degree from Newcastle University and completed his LPC at Northumbria University. Contact Andrew direct on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 261 4666.
So that you don't miss out on another interesting article from our team - sign up for our newsletter today
BA (Hons) PG Dip (LPC)
Tuesday 30th January 2018