Mediation and Cultural Change


  • Lesley A Allport



In this article I describe the most significant legislative developments in England and Wales in relation to mediation over the last 25 years. Similar patterns emerge from a number of consultations and reforms across several different sectors of mediation provision. One of the most notable is the perception of mediation as a means by which to achieve a culture change in the way that disputes are handled. Recent legislation affecting several fields of delivery has attempted to position mediation as the default process which encourages informality and individual responsibility, with adjudication as the exception when all else fails. At the same time, these efforts cannot be divorced from the clear motivation to reduce time, costs and pressure generally on the civil justice system. In either case, these aspirations have not been fully realized. The take-up of mediation has been relatively low and has led to recurring debates about whether it should be mandatory. Conflicting interests and expectations have led to a lack of clarity and have resulted in a struggle to establish a mediation provision which meets the needs of individuals in dispute as well as those of the civil justice system, public sector funders and the Government. This raises considerable challenges for the mediation community.

Keywords: mediation; voluntariness; culture change; mandatory mediation; civil justice; legislation.


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Special Section: ADR Issues and Development (Part 2)