Court of Appeal rules court can order mediation

Court of Appeal rules courts can order mediation

In the case of Churchill -v- Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, last week the Court of Appeal ruled that under the Civil Procedure Rules, a court can stay proceedings and require parties to litigation to attempt to settle the case using some form of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation. The judgment can be found here.

It found that ordering a stay was not, of itself, a breach of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a fair trial), and that comments to that effect in the case of Halsey -v- Milton Keynes General NHS Trust should not be followed. However any stay or order should be framed in a way which does not breach that right.

The decision is not a surprise; very few people believed Halsey was right on this point, including the UK government, which is introducing measures to make mediation compulsory. However it is helpful to have the position confirmed formally, which should lead to more cases being referred to mediation or other ADR procedures, and more judicial robustness in their referral. Given the benefits of mediation, this is a very good thing.

For that thanks go to the Law Society, The Bar Council, the Civil Mediation Council, the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, who were given permission to intervene with a view to securing this exact result.