Compulsory Mediation – Is it good to talk?

In the domain of small claims cases, a voluntary and cost-free mediation telephone service, orchestrated through the court, currently stands as a viable option. The process involves the engagement of a trained mediator speaking with each party individually over a one-hour span, with the goal of facilitating amicable settlements. Rebecca Smith, Chartered Legal Executive in our Litigation and Disputes team, gives her views on the latest announcement from the Ministry of Justice.

Last month the Ministry of Justice announced that mediation will become a compulsory step for the vast majority of small claims proceedings. The rationale underpinning this initiative is the optimisation of court resources, resulting in reduced waiting periods for intricate cases. It is expected that mediation will be carried out remotely/ by video conference.

Which claims?

The proposal, at this stage, is to make mediation compulsory for disputes about a specified sum of money, which currently account for 80% of small claims, with a value of up to a maximum of £10,000.00. The aim thereafter appears to extended the scheme to include all small claims in the County Court (i.e.: other than money claims). An anticipated subsequent phase is the roll out of compulsory mediation for higher value claims in the Fast Track and Multi-Track of the County Court.


The mediation will be compulsory and there will be no exemptions. If either party does not attend the remote mediation session, they will face sanctions from the court which could potentially include financial penalties or the striking out of their claim or defence.

Advantages to mediation

There are many advantages to mediation. Mediation is a platform that provides a constructive and open forum for parties to thorough explore the potential for settlement. Additionally, mediation has the capacity to expedite dispute resolution, mitigate the stress associated with litigation and reduce financial outlays of a trial. The compulsory mediation service will provide proficient mediators without any accompanying costs to the parties.

Disadvantages to mediation

However, alongside the potential benefits, there may well be some anticipated drawbacks. The introduction of compulsory mediation might inadvertently lead to case delays. Whilst the mediation process holds promise for resolving disputes, the requirement for genuine participation is not explicitly stipulated. Consequently, some parties may perceive mediation as merely a procedural formality. A box ticking exercise. For commercial litigation parties, a pertinent question arises regarding the feasibility of early-stage compulsory mediation after the filing of a defence, particularly when such cases tend to be more complex in nature. Often mediation is viewed as more appropriate after the exchange of witness statements when all parties positions have been set out.

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When it comes to resolving disputes our litigation teams are equipped with extensive experience in finding effective solutions that not only safeguard your interests but also minimise disruption to you. By focusing on your specific objectives, we’ll develop a customised strategy that is bespoke to you and maximises your prospects of achieving settlement.

Contact us today to see how we can support you with any alternative dispute resolution questions you may have.

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