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Government in call for evidence on dispute resolution ahead of civil, family and administrative justice reform

The Ministry of Justice has launched a call for evidence on dispute resolution in England and Wales that is intended to shape future reforms to civil, family and administrative justice.

The call for evidence will examine whether new technologies, as well as services such as mediation and conciliation, “could provide smarter and less adversarial routes for finding resolutions”.

The MoJ said the step “looks to build on the success of recent reforms which have seen civil money claims, damages, enforcement, parts of the tribunals, and public and private law family claims move online – with users of those services reporting high satisfaction”.

Evidence will be gathered from a range of interested parties including the judiciary, legal profession, mediators and other conflict resolvers, academics, and the advice sector.

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Any future reforms are expected to be introduced later in this parliament.

Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said: “We want the public, families and businesses to be able to resolve disputes easily and with as little stress as possible – avoiding often lengthy and costly court battles.

“That is why I am delighted to launch this important call for evidence which will help shape our plans to harness new technologies and ensure more people can get resolutions in ways that work for them.

“I look forward to hearing a range of views that will be invaluable in informing our next steps.”

The MoJ stressed that litigation would always remain as an option open to everyone, and some cases would inevitably require people to go to court.

“But the Government wants people to have a greater range of options to settle disagreements proactively and constructively – via routes most appropriate for their particular case.”

The call for evidence, which will run until 30 September 2021, said: “A quarter of a century after the Woolf report, litigation is still far from the last resort and too many cases still go through the court process unnecessarily. The provision of dispute resolution schemes remains patchy, even though there are welcome developments including a wide range of Ombudsman schemes, private dispute resolution services and judicial early neutral evaluation projects. But more still needs to be done to increase uptake of less adversarial options.”

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