Funding boost for family mediation voucher scheme
News of an additional £1.3 million investment into a voucher scheme to help families resolve legal issues outside of court was today welcomed by solicitors’ leaders.
Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “The government’s continued commitment to invest in the family mediation voucher scheme to help minimise conflict between separating couples is good news.
“Steps to address the backlog in the family court system are helpful. However, data shows a straight line between the removal of private family proceedings from the scope of legal aid funding and a reduction in mediations.
“We have repeatedly said early legal advice for family law cases – cut by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) in 2013 – should be restored.”
The latest family court statistics show there are an estimated 63,084 new family cases.*
I. Stephanie Boyce added: “By restoring early legal advice for family law cases, fewer cases will go to court. Instead, there will be negotiated settlement, referral to mediation and management of client expectations.
“Solicitors are best placed to assess all alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options with their clients, and to keep them out of court where possible and desirable.”
The voucher scheme is administered by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) on behalf of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and provides a £500 voucher to put towards the cost of mediation for an additional 2,440 families.
According to the MoJ, since its launch in March 2021, 4,400 vouchers have been used, 77% of cases reached full or partial agreements and 49% said they wouldn’t have considered mediation had the voucher not been on offer.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the FMC, MoJ and our family mediation members to evaluate the scheme,” I. Stephanie Boyce concluded.
Notes to editors
* Family court statistics quarterly: July to September 2021
The family mediation voucher scheme will run until the end of March
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