The family law team at Harper Macleod LLP have recently responded to a consultation relating to a proposal to increase the use and consistency of mediation services in Scotland. The proposal is made by the MSP for Central Scotland, Margaret Mitchell, and is the first step in the process for introducing a Member's Bill in the Scottish Parliament. The hope is that the Member's Bill will increase awareness of mediation and what it can do to assist those involved in disputes.
The consultation can be accessed here:
The proposal looks to set down a process of court-initiated mediation for certain civil cases. When a relevant case is in court, the court service will provide litigants with a questionnaire to assist with an assessment of how suitable a matter may be for mediation. It would also appoint a 'duty mediator' who would meet with those involved and help support decision making as to whether parties want to go ahead with mediation. There would be no compulsion on litigants to go ahead with mediation – attendance at mediation remains entirely voluntary.
How Harper Macleod can help?
The family law team at Harper Macleod has several family law mediators who are accredited by the Law Society of Scotland to provide family mediation services. We have mediators based in our Glasgow and Edinburgh offices and all of our accredited mediators are members of CALM Scotland. All of our mediators are also family lawyers who have extensive experience in the practice of family law (divorce, separation, cohabitation matters, child residence and contact disputes and other child-related matters such as relocation, educational matters, child support, surrogacy and adoption etc). Against this background and experience, we are able to offer mediation services across the spectrum of family law issues.
What are the Benefits of Mediation?
The process of mediation involves an impartial mediator who helps those involved in a dispute navigate the way to resolution, through negotiation and option generation, in a confidential and neutral setting. The benefits of mediation in a family law context cannot be underestimated. Parties are able to have more say and more control in the resolution of a dispute. It will usually always reduce cost if an agreement can be reached and it allows greater control in terms of timing – something not always possible through more traditional solicitor led negotiation and certainly not possible where cases result in litigation. However, perhaps the most important benefit of mediation in a family law setting is the scope to minimise further polarisation of parties. Whilst a separation is rarely painless, mediation can help to reduce stress and anxiety that can come from the legal aspects of the process. This can be crucially important where separating parties are also parents who will need to co-parent with a former partner following the end of a relationship.
For more information regarding mediation or other family law services, please be in touch by phone or email.