The Ministry of Justice is to use an accelerated procedure for the procurement of a £2.5m, 6.5-month possession mediation services pilot.
The MoJ said it was “looking to procure and pilot a dedicated mediation service to engage with possession claims as they progress through court, and facilitate settlement without a substantive hearing where possible. This service aims to help further promote compromise to the benefit of all parties, sustain tenancies and manage capacity in the court system.”
The scope of services includes:
- arranging for remote mediation sessions with parties referred to the service. Mediations to be conducted by a team of mediators with appropriate skills (to be detailed in the tender requirements) relevant to the delivery of mediation in possession cases;
- management of these mediators to deliver a professional standard so that the parties involved are clear about the options open to them and any commitments they take on;
- provision of an appropriately skilled flexible workforce to enable fluctuations in volumes to be managed efficiently; and
- working effectively with stakeholders including MOJ, HMCTS, MCHLG and any Independent evaluator appointed to ensure the pilot operates smoothly.
The contract is expected to start on 14 January 2021 and run until 31 July 2021. The initial term may be extended by a period of up to three months giving a potential end date of 31 October 2021.
Justifying the use of the accelerated time limits permitted under the PCR 2015 for the open procedure in respect of this procurement, the MoJ said the resumption of housing possession cases had “given rise to an urgent need for the supply of possession mediation services as soon as practicably possible, ideally by the start of 2021”.
It added: “This does not give the MOJ sufficient time to comp with the standard open procedure timescales for this procurement. The MOJ considers this to be a state of urgency which it has duly substantiated.”