CEDR (the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution) has published its Ninth Mediation Audit, following its latest survey of civil and commercial mediators in the UK. CEDR, a leading mediation body, has been carrying out audits biennially since 2003, aims to assess how the mediation market, and attitudes towards mediation have changed. They provide valuable insights into the state of civil and commercial mediation in the UK, covering aspects such as settlement rates, perceptions of mediation standards and priorities for development. Some of this year’s most interesting highlights include the reaction to online mediation and settlement rates.

This article aims to provide a brief overview of the report highlighting some of the information that we feel may be of interest.

What has the 2021 CEDR audit revealed?

This year’s report revealed that the sector continues to show encouraging growth, with a 38% increase in the annual number of cases mediated since its 2018 audit. CEDR further estimates that £4.6billion will be saved this year by commercial mediation, and now enjoys an overall settlement rate of 93%, with 72% of cases settling on the day and 21% shortly thereafter. This goes to show how beneficial the process of mediation can be for disputing parties.

The effect of COVID-19 and subsequent restrictions placed upon the public during the forced lockdowns inevitably triggered a downturn in mediation activity during 2020, and cases dropped by 35% between March and September. However, CEDR reports that 89% of the mediations that did go ahead, were conducted online during this period; a significant increase in comparison to pre-pandemic practice, and due to the sudden upsurge in online mediation, the drop was not as severe as it could have been. Interestingly, even with a “return to normal” mindset and the roadmap out of lockdown in motion, there seems to be an indication that online mediation will continue to be a popular choice, with the Audit reporting around 65% of mediation work expected to continue online in 2021.

Overall, the report highlights the effectiveness and quality of the mediation process and the overall quality of mediators in England and Wales. The Report did however cover other issues for improvement within the industry including broadening diversity and inclusion within the sector.

You can read the full report here

Mediation Services at Phillips Lewis Smith

Mediation continues to provide a beneficial option for parties when in a commercial or civil dispute. It allows both sides the opportunity to engage in a comprehensive and astute discussion, that can draw a realistic and common understanding of each party’s position. It also allows each party to stay in control while providing the chance to agree on terms that a court or arbitrator would not be able to do in an arbitral award or court judgment. Although the mediation process comes with a cost (the mediator’s fees are normally shared equally between the parties) it is usually much cheaper than the alternatives (arbitration or litigation).

At Phillips Lewis Smith we have experience in dispute resolution across all of the dispute resolution types. We advocate a sensible and pragmatic approach to dispute resolution, with the objectives of containing cost and narrowing issues. In this way and even if the mediation fails to achieve a settlement, and the dispute continues to court or arbitration for final determination, the issues are minimised saving both time and cost for all involved.

Involving expert dispute resolution Solicitors in assisting with any form of a dispute is often essential as the parties will receive expert advice on the path a dispute should take and how to resolve it most effectively.

To speak to one of our dispute resolution team you can call us on (0)20 7925 2244 or email us at Office@plslex.com and we will contact you as soon as possible.