Wednesday, May 11, 2011

News Brief: Plugging mediation (again) and exploding myths about experts

As I've said before, Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly never wastes an opportunity to plug the merits of mediation. Today, a 'feature' on the Ministry of Justice website tells us that:
"Separating couples in Manchester are resolving their disputes more cheaply, quickly and less stressfully following new rules introduced by Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly."

This gem seems to be based solely upon the fact that:
"Family Mediation Manchester, one of the largest mediation services in the country, has reported an increase in the number of people contacting them since new rules came into effect on 6 April."

Quite how this translates into the 'fact' that disputes are being resolved more cheaply, more quickly and less stressfully, I'm not sure.

On an entirely separate matter, the President of the Family Division Sir Nicholas Wall has been exploding myths about expert witnesses, in the case X, Y, and Z & Anor v A Local Authority [2011] EWHC 1157 (Fam), reported today on Bailii. He said (at paragraph 76):
"A number of myths about expert witnesses need to be exploded. The first is that they are "hired guns" supporting invariably the side which pays them. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. The [Family Justice System] depends upon the integrity of the expert witness, and the duties of the expert witness to the child and to the court are spelled out in case law, in the Rules and in the Practice Direction."

Further (paragraph 77):
"Judges do not decide cases on the words of expert alone. Expert witnesses are just that. They have an expertise which the rest of us do not share, but which the judge analyses and debates in the context of all the evidence in the case. It is by reference to the latter that the judge decides the case, not simply the evidence of the expert."

The hearing concerned the application of a journalist for permission for the media to name the medical expert witness in the case. Let us hope the media read the whole report...


  1. Well OF COURSE mediators, not just in Manchester, will have seen a huge rise in the number of enquiries...that's the effect of the rule change! Whether that is leading to more effevtive mediations is the real issue.

  2. how can it not! cynics. you will also notice that the sun appears to have risen this morning. this too is down to the sensible plans from the coalition.

  3. "increase in the number of people contacting them since new rules came into effect on 6 April"

    Given that without the usual exceptions such as DV you can no longer make a family/children/matrimonial application without having considered (ie the Resp ignoring the mediators letter and them signing a form and being paid 50 quid) its harldly surprising...


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