05 July 2019

Scots take mediation by the horns

Bringing mediation into the mainstream in civil justice in Scotland as part of 'normalising' move.

By Dr David Cowan


A report has been published recommends much greater use of mediation to help people to resolve disputes which otherwise end up in Scotland’s courts.

Valuing people

Although court reform has created more opportunities for mediation in civil justice, its use remains limited according to the report, which also states there is a need to change the ‘one size fits all’ model of litigation. Hoping things will change is not a sustainable policy the authors argue, and Scotland needs to adopt a more proactive approach to deliver a viable pathway to mediate civil disputes. The report proposes a coordinated strategy for ‘normalising’ the use of mediation in the civil justice system in Scotland. It seeks to build on existing infrastructure to minimise the cost to the public purse and to ensure mediation is embedded as seamlessly as possible. Co-chair John Sturrock QC said “In particular we note that mediation is consistent with the aspirations of the National Performance Framework and, more generally, with a society in which people are valued, relationships are enhanced, choices are made by those most affected, constructive solutions are sought for difficult problems and financial and other resources are wisely deployed.”

Civilised approach

Co-chair Alun Thomas, chair of Scottish Mediation, said “We have no doubt that the recommendations in this report sit well with a civilised and forward-looking approach to our country’s future.” Angela Grahame QC, vice dean of the Faculty of Advocates, a member of the expert group, commented in a personal capacity “I’m delighted to be associated with this report which makes sensible and forward thinking recommendations to improve the experiences of people with disputes in Scotland and retains their right to instruct counsel.” The report can be found here.

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