Valerie questions Justice Secretary on family mediation services

Valerie drew question number 4 to the Lord Chancellor at Justice Questions on Tuesday 17 December 2013.

Valerie said:

‘What recent assessment he has made of family mediation services.’

The Secretary of State replied:

‘The Ministry of Justice does not regulate family mediation services, but it does award contracts for the provision of family mediation funded through legal aid to standards set by the Legal Aid Agency. We are aware that there has been a drop in referrals to mediation following changes to legal aid in April 2013, although there has been no drop in the number of mediations taking place. My Department is undertaking a range of activities to address this important issue.’

Valerie followed up:

‘The Minister indicates that there has been a drop of 47%, causing some mediation services to close. That was a foreseeable consequence of cuts in legal aid to family lawyers, so will he please change the policy now?’

The Secretary of State replied:

‘We are working extremely hard to address the issue. One change that will come through when the Children and Families Bill becomes law relates to making it a requirement in a family process that the mediation referral takes place. However, as I say, the actual issue is about referrals, rather than about the number of mediations, which has not changed. We are working very hard with those in the mediation world to address that and ensure that the right referrals are made.’