Mediation must come sooner in the separation process

Compulsory Mediation Information Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) are not always effective, Resolution has reminded Lord Neuberger, after he proposed extending them to smaller civil claims.

In fact figures suggest MIAMs lead to mediation less than 25 per cent of the time, the family law organisation has warned.

MIAMs are held to assess whether or not mediation could help to resolve a particular family dispute. Attendance at a MIAM is now compulsory for anyone who wishes to take a family dispute to court.

But in a recent poll by Resolution, 60 per cent of respondents said MIAMs only led to mediation less than 25 per cent of the time.

In addition, less than a quarter of the minority of cases which do proceed to mediation actually achieve a settlement.

So, while MIAMs are effective in getting more people to mediate, the conversion rates to mediation are undoubtedly lower than policy-makers would have hoped, said Resolution chair Joanne Edwards.

Edwards said Resolution believed this was because the MIAM comes too late in the process.

“By the time people have reached the issuing of proceedings, many have passed the point where mediation will be effective, or even possible,” she said.

“In our Manifesto for Family Law we argue that information sessions about mediation and other dispute resolution options must come earlier in the separation process, before the case has reached the court.

“This would give mediation a much better chance of success, as the longer a case is left, the more conflict tends to escalate and the more positions become polarised.”