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In Place of Strife

The Mediation Chambers

John Pugh-Smith gives evidence to APPG on ADR

Thursday, 2nd February 2017

John Pugh Smith, a mediator on In Place of Strife's panel, was invited by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alternative Dispute Resolution (chaired by John Howell MP OBE) to give evidence to the committee on the use of mediation in the public sector.  John Pugh-Smith's evidence was heard alongside evidence from other mediation providers and other parties who have experience of ADR in the public sector.

John spoke of his experience of mediation in the planning and land disputes sector.  A copy of his speaking notes can be found below.   The APPG notes record:

The APPG Notes record:

19.  John Pugh-Smith addressed the rise of mediation in public law. He referred, among others, to the Wolf Reforms and the Dispute Resolution Commitment from 2011, noting that £360 million of Government money has been saved just in terms of Government disputes. He explained that current research shows that whilst there is a high success rate in terms of settlement, in terms of matters that come to court, judges seem to be reluctant to stay proceedings in favour of mediation or other facilitative proceedings.

20.  He continued by highlighting the high costs associated with court proceedings, which have led to an increase in promotion of mediation.

 21.  John further made note of mediation in planning, referring to the Guide endorsed by Bob Neill MP. He stressed that if successful, mediation delivers greatest benefits the earlier it is used. However, he added that a failed mediation rarely leads to a second attempt. Looking at the future, John noted the following:

a)         The disparity of practices, provisions and their use;

b)         Moving mediation up-stream? (use of mediation techniques in the decision-making process);

c)         Public law mediation moves easily between the administrative and judicial spheres.F

Finally, John drew the following conclusions:

a)         Mediation has now been tried and tested in many spheres;

b)         There are opportunities to apply it to most parts of current land-use system as well as related areas;

c)         There is a growing interest, but still relatively little experience throughout UK;

d)         Some good experiences to learn from with more in the pipeline;

e)         Encouragement to the Governmental legal departments to use mediation more actively;

f)       Need to make people aware of the costs savings and restauration of relationships when it comes to ADR.

Topics covered by the other speakers included handling traffic penalties, NHS and tax disputes.  The session followed on from previous sessions on community, family, commercial and workplace ADR.

ADR continues to be a subject of discussion across Parliament.  On 31 January 2017, the APPG on Fair Business Bank and the APPG on ADR announced a joint 3-stage inquiry into the use of ADR as a long-term solution for businesses involved in financial disputes.  More information on this can be found here.

The full transcript of the session can be found here.  John's contribution to the session can be found at 54:38 to 1:03:54.

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