Ash Denham, Minister for Community Safety has commented on momentum building towards mediation reform referring to proposals for review by (1) Scottish Mediation, (2) the Justice Committee report "I Won't See You In Court" from October 2018, (3) Martyn Evans' review into legal aid provision in Scotland "Rethinking Legal Aid from February 2018 and (4) consultation for proposals for a Private Member's Bill on aspects of mediation by Margaret Mitchell MSP.
What is proposed as the next steps is that a Scottish Dispute Resolution Delivery Group will meet early in 2020 to develop a package of reform. It will issue a public consultation to seek the views of the general public, key stakeholders and other interested parties on the proposals for increasing the consistency and use of mediation within the civil justice system in Scotland during 2020. They are to look at a range of issues including:-
- how an Early Dispute Resolution Office might work;
- considering the wider Dispute Resolution infrastructure so that advice, assistance and representation for resolving civil disputes is co-ordinated, seamless, effective and efficient;
- the standards required for mediators and the complaints process required as well as considering the possible financial model for mediation in Scotland; and
- what training is required for the legal profession on dispute resolution.
Thought will be also given as to whether legislation is required and to what extent amendments can be made to the current system of dispute resolution without further legislation as well as considering implementation arrangements. It is proposed that a wider public consultation will follow.
It is considered that this represents a major step in recognising the value of mediation in the resolution of disputes. Scottish Mediation seeks to advance awareness of mediation by leading and co-ordinating a Scottish Year of Mediation in 2020. Together with the proposals announced this week it is to be hoped that by the end of next year some positive change with the integration into the civil justice system will be seen.