Proposals to cut legal aid are aimed at reducing the number of civil law cases and discouraging, it is said, a culture of litigation (see Legal Aid Cuts, The Guardian). Let’s hope then that people in dispute will begin to look for other ways to settle their differences, mediation for example.
Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly is quoted as saying that in civil legal aid and private family law “people are too often willing to hand over their personal problems to the state.”
Mediation does the opposite; it enables people in conflict to take responsibility for resolving things themselves. It is not only more efficient, cheaper and quicker than the courts, mediation also restores some viability to the relationship of those involved. There are many situations where this important. Children suffer less when divorcing parents can still talk to each other; disputing work colleagues need to keep working together; business partners can find avoid costly and damaging separation of assets.
“It’s an ill wind…” they say. Perhaps this particular wind of change can blow some common sense into the insane and damaging world of adversarial litigation.