Stewarts is acting pro bono for three mediation groups: Civil Mediation Council (CMC), the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Ciarb) and the Centre of Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), who are intervening in a case that has the potential to allow UK courts to order parties to attempt to resolve disputes out of court.
CMC, Ciarb and CEDR are intervening in the case of Churchill v Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.
The three dispute resolution bodies are hoping to overturn the 2004 decision in Halsey v Milton Keynes General NHS Trust, which determined that compelling parties to mediate was a breach of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees the right to a fair trial. In 2021 the Civil Justice Council (CJC) produced a report stating that mandatory alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is compatible with Article 6 of the European Human Rights Convention, which is in opposition to the Halsey decision.
The interveners to the case will provide a written intervention, in the hope of introducing ADR to the court process in line with the CJC’s recommendations.
The case is important as it is the first time that there has been an opportunity for a higher court to consider overturning the widely unpopular decision in Halsey.
There is good evidence for the efficacy of ADR in resolving litigation cost-effectively, whether small or modest claims, or complex high-value commercial cases. The out of court resolution of disputes also alleviates pressure on the courts and the justice system.
Ian Gatt KC comments: “We are delighted to be acting for these leading mediation organisations which have extensive experience of promoting mediation to efficiently resolve disputes. As a specialist disputes firm, we regularly see across our wide range of practice areas how valuable alternative dispute resolution can be to narrow issues, save costs and resolve cases quickly and consensually.”
Comments from intervening parties
Rebecca Clark, Chair of the CMC says, “Mediation is a consensual process which empowers people to actively manage and resolve disputes and conflict. It is important that the Court of Appeal is given evidence as to its efficacy and increasing popularity: mediation saves time, money and Court resources.”
Catherine Dixon, Director General of Ciarb adds, “Halsey has proved hugely problematic for the wider adoption of mediation. It is generally considered to be bad law and this case offers the Court of Appeal the opportunity to clarify that referring parties to mediation does not breach their human rights.”
James South, Chief Executive of CEDR says, “CEDR has over 30 years’ worth of experience showing that mediation helps meet the needs of disputants and benefits those that use it. Now is the time for the Court of Appeal to adopt a more permissive approach, and to allow judges, in appropriate cases, to order parties to attend mediation and provide more disputants with access to the benefits that we know mediation can bring them.”
Stewarts have instructed Edwin Glasgow CBE KC and Kelly Stricklin-Coutinho from 39 Essex Chambers as barristers in the case.
The case will be heard by the Court of Appeal.
Stewarts and counsel are acting pro bono for CMC, Ciarb and CEDR, who are amongst a number of interveners in the case which may set a new precedent on a bigger issue of dispute resolution.
The Appellant, Merthyr Tydfill CC is represented by in house solicitors and Michel Kallipetis KC, and Maya Chilaeva of Quadrant Chambers and Iain Whitwick of Unity Street Chambers and the Respondent James Churchill is represented by McDermott Smith Solicitors and Justin Bates and Tom Morris of Landmark Chambers.
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