Westminster Legal Policy Forum

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Next steps for Alternative Dispute Resolution in England and Wales - policy, automatic referral and plans for expansion, meeting varied service user needs, and priorities for the future

March 2023

Price: £150 PLUS VAT

This conference brought together policymakers and stakeholders to consider next steps for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in England and Wales.

Delegates examined proposals for increasing the use of mediation and the priorities for the ADR sector going forward, following a consultation from the MOJ on plans to introduce mandatory mediation for small claims disputes, with further proposals to expand this to all County Court proceedings.

Stakeholders and policymakers evaluated the priorities and challenges for implementing new plans and next steps for the Small Claims Mediation Service, as well as how outcomes compare with those available through litigation.

Discussion further explored the effectiveness of mandatory mediation, the impact of further extension, and the role of the legal profession in delivery, including priority areas for improvement as the number of service users grows.

Overall, areas for discussion included:

  • next steps for policy: assessing proposals for increased use of mediation - strengthening the dispute resolution sector
  • mandatory mediation: addressing non-compliance - determining exemptions - implications for the legal profession - impact on user outcomes compared to pursuing litigation
  • Small Claims Mediation Service: implementing new plans for small claims - expanding the service
  • engagement: addressing obstacles to public confidence - improving understanding, engagement and safeguarding
  • meeting the needs of different ADR users: service delivery for individuals, SMEs and large firms - utilising technology to improve the accessibility and quality of services
  • dispute resolution going forward: developing capacity for increased use - workforce development - regulatory oversight of standards, quality and training in the sector

We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with Lady Justice Asplin DBE, Chair, Judicial ADR Liaison Committee; Sarah Rose, Deputy Director of Dispute Resolution, Ministry of Justice; Professor Dame Hazel Genn KC, Director, University College London Centre for Access to Justice; Julia Hopkins, Delivery Director, National Business Centres, HMCTS; and Rosemary Rand, Deputy Director and Service Owner, Civil, Development Directorate, HMCTS.

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from DHSC; DfT; HMCTS; Home Office; MOJ; Ofcom; and the Welsh Government - as well as by parliamentary pass-holders from The House of Lords.

This on-demand pack includes

  • A full video recording of the conference as it took place, with all presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from chairs
  • An automated transcript of the conference
  • Copies of the slides used to accompany speaker presentations (subject to permission
  • Access to on-the-day materialfs, including speaker biographies, attendee lists and the agenda