News from NFM: New government mediation report tells us little that’s new

The largest of provider of family mediation in England and Wales says a new Ministry of Justice (MOJ) report outlining the findings of a family mediation research programme, “doesn’t tell us a huge amount we didn’t already know.”

Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) and mediation in private family law disputes: Quantitative Findings, was published by the MOJ on 29 January.

National Family Mediation’s Chief Executive Jane Robey said: “This new report could prove a useful addition to the body of evidence being collected by government as it seeks to increase the take-up of family mediation. In truth, detailed statistics aside, it doesn’t tell us a huge amount we didn’t already know.

“The finding that self-referrals to MIAMs and mediations have become more common than referrals through solicitors confirms our own previously-published research. As we have previously stated, the source of referrals to family mediation have flipped on their head since the legal aid cuts, and we now have more people coming to us of their own accord than those referred by a lawyer.

“People are increasingly researching their options for themselves once they’ve decided to separate. There is no doubt that legal aid cuts have led to many people shunning the ‘traditional’ route of heading off to the solicitor’s office – instead they are trying family mediation first.

“We have seen the evidence of this shift: visits to our website and phone calls to our national office from people seeking advice have more than doubled since the legal aid cuts were introduced.”

“The number of people coming through the doors of many non-profit NFM services each month is greater than nationwide numbers suggested by this report, which take private profit-making mediators into account. As the original family mediators, established over 30 years ago, and having led development of the profession since then, we are not surprised by this.

Engaging with respondents as well as applicants

“Interestingly the report refers to the need for respondents as well as applicants to be willing to engage with mediation. Whilst we frequently offer guidance to applicants whose ex is initially unwilling to take part in mediation – and have published some online information - the government will need to continue to consider measures that would make it compulsory for the respondent to take part in mediation.

“As the largest provider of family mediation in England and Wales, NFM maintains its own statistical records of MIAMs, conversions, settlement rates and so on. We look forward to continued collaboration with the government on all aspect of the drive to ensure more couples and children reap the benefits of family mediation.”

The MOJ study is available here:

It was designed to estimate the national use of privately funded MIAMs and mediation, and to examine the proportion of parties, both publicly and privately funded, that have used MIAMs and mediation before applying to court.