Mediation report calls for change to ‘one size fits all’ model of litigation

Mediation report calls for change to 'one size fits all' model of litigation

John Sturrock QC

Greater use of mediation in Scotland has been recommended in a new report.

The Expert Group on Mediation in Civil Justice in Scotland’s report proposes a coordinated strategy for ‘normalising’ the use of mediation in the civil justice system in Scotland. 

The report states: “Despite recent civil justice reforms, fewer people are turning to the courts. There is a need to change the ‘one size fits all’ model of litigation, and various recent developments and reforms within the civil justice system provide an ideal opportunity to consider how the use of mediation might be increased.

“Although court reform has created more opportunities for mediation in civil justice, its use remains limited. The necessary infrastructure to support the delivery of mediation has not been provided by the civil justice system. Hoping things will change is not a sustainable policy. Scotland needs to adopt a more proactive approach over time in order to deliver a viable pathway to ensure that more people are enabled to mediate their civil disputes.”

Co-chair John Sturrock QC said: “In particular we note that mediation is consistent with the aspirations of the National Performance Framework and, more generally, with a society in which people are valued, relationships are enhanced, choices are made by those most affected, constructive solutions are sought for difficult problems and financial and other resources are wisely deployed.” 

Co-chair Alun Thomas, chair of Scottish Mediation, said: “We have no doubt that the recommendations in this report sit well with a civilised and forward-looking approach to our country’s future.”

John Downie, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) said: “SCVO welcomes this report as a catalyst to making the justice system more inclusive, accessible and affordable. 

People and communities throughout Scotland, especially the most vulnerable, find the civil justice system difficult to access and expensive. As a result, people are often put off turning to the courts to get the justice they deserve.

A culture change ‘normalising’ the use of mediation in the civil justice system, alongside the concrete ways the report recommends to achieve this goal, will ensure mediation is accessible to third sector organisations and the people they support.”

Angela Grahame QC, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and a member of the expert group, said: “I’m delighted to be associated with this report which makes sensible and forward thinking recommendations to improve the experiences of people with disputes in Scotland and retains their right to instruct counsel.”

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