At last count, only two mediators based in Scotland (one from Morton Fraser) make that list. The reality is that there are many excellent mediators in Scotland and, from experience they are every bit as good as those who feature in the legal directories. Perhaps the reason that mediation does not have the same profile here is that it is not embedded in the Civil Justice System to the same extent. There are, however, areas where mediation is very much part of the landscape. In family law there is the ability to refer cases to mediation, in simple procedure cases the Sheriff can direct that cases should be mediated and Judicial Mediation has been an option in Employment Tribunals for many years. It is likely that 2020 will herald significant changes in the use of mediation in Scotland.
On 21 January Morton Fraser hosted the launch of Scottish Mediation's "Mediation Charter" of which Morton Fraser was one of the first signatories. Scottish Mediation is a charity which has been in existence since 1990 and whose objects are to raise the profile of mediation in Scotland, act as a professional body for mediators, maintain the Scottish Mediation Register of mediators and to provide access to quality assured mediation services. In the last year Scottish Mediation produced an excellent report on the use of mediation in the Civil Justice System. In December 2019 the Scottish Government response to the independent review of mediation in Scotland was issued. Ash Denham, Minister for Community Safety commented on momentum building towards mediation reform referring to proposals for review by Scottish Mediation, the Scottish Government's Justice Committee report "I Won't See You In Court" from October 2018, a review into legal aid provision in Scotland "Rethinking Legal Aid from February 2018 and consultation for proposals for a Private Member's Bill on aspects of mediation by Margaret Mitchell MSP. The next steps entail a Scottish Dispute Resolution Delivery Group meeting 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. Consideration 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. It seems that it is not a question of whether mediation will be integrated into the Civil Justice system but rather what form that might take.
The commitment to the Mediation Charter reflects the fact that Morton Fraser has been at the vanguard of the use of mediation in Scotland. Signing this is indicative of our abilities to use mediation to resolve disputes and of our commitment to equip our lawyers with the knowledge and skills to do so. We are able to assist in providing the services of a mediator or to support you and your clients in any mediation. If interested in finding out more about our mediation expertise please contact David Hossack at firstname.lastname@example.org and to learn more about the current developments you can listen to our podcast series