The British Government has signed the first Dispute Resolution Commitment (DRC), which requires all departments and agencies to use mediation, arbitration and conciliation wherever possible before taking disputes to court.
This is a very welcome move that should be followed by other others including business and non-governmental organisations.
Making more use of the wide range of options available to resolve disputes has already saved UK taxpayers an estimated £360 million over the last decade. The signing of the DRC will build on this and save further time, money and stress for everyone involved by reducing their legal and court costs, and in turn reducing the number of cases unnecessarily clogging up the courts.
The commitment is the latest in a series of Government moves to encourage people and businesses to take responsibility for their own disputes, rather than turning to lawyers and judges to resolve issues.
It follows proposals, earlier this year, for the first major overhaul of the civil justice system in 15 years to tackle fears that a damaging compensation culture and an unwieldy justice system is costing businesses millions of pounds and deterring deserving individuals from using the justice system.
This would mean more people will use mediation before they can go to court and more cases will be dealt with by quicker methods. This follows changes introduced to the family justice system in April this year, which introduced a new pre-action protocol, requiring separating couples to attend mediation assessment sessions, after research showed it can cost a quarter of the price and take a quarter of the time of going to court.
Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said: ‘I believe that government should be leading by example by resolving issues away from court using alternatives which are usually quicker, cheaper and provide better outcomes.
‘We want people to see court as a last resort rather than a first option, and cut down on the amount of unnecessary, expensive, painful and confrontational litigation in our society.
‘In many cases methods like mediation are simply a common sense solution which benefits everyone involved. Although they will not be suitable in every case, they are already saving taxpayers millions every year and can save much more.’
The DRC will renew and strengthen the Alternative Dispute Resolution Pledge made by Government in 2001.