11 April 2000
Lord Chancellor pledges greater promotion of alternative dispute resolution
The Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine told CEDR's Civil Justice Audit conference that he wishes to see ADR (alternative dispute resolution) achieve its full potential. This followed the announcement of a MORI poll which revealed that 78% of in-house lawyers believe mediation should be required at some point if a business dispute goes to court.
Lord Irvine used his keynote address to unveil the Government's first thoughts on promoting the use of ADR, following responses to the consultation paper his department issued last November.
The unequalled high-level conference, organised by CEDR (the Centre for Dispute Resolution), was attended by over 400 delegates who heard contributions from the judiciary and leading ADR experts and practitioners (see Notes for editors for full conference content).
Lord Woolf, the architect of the new Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), responded to CEDR's Civil Justice Audit - a comprehensive independent assessment of lawyers' perceptions of the impact of the new CPR, conducted by MORI and CEDR's Research Services Unit.
Lord Chancellor's keynote address - the Government's ADR priorities:
Lord Irvine told the conference, "ADR can provide quicker, cheaper and more satisfactory outcomes than traditional litigation. I want to see ADR achieve its full potential". He announced, "I intend to launch a wide ranging awareness campaign and will set up a working party to draw up plans on the best ways to get the messages across".
He also agreed in principle to further pilot schemes to explore which forms of ADR work best in different types of dispute, and announced that his department would look at ways to involve ADR providers more formally in the new Community Legal Service framework.
Congratulating CEDR on ten years of mediation success, The Lord Chancellor said, "Thank you for the valuable work you have done in partnership with Government and the Judiciary".
The Lord Chancellor took the opportunity to set out the Government's priorities on ADR:
- to make sure that parties to a dispute can access better information about the potential benefits of ADR
- to make sure that professional advisers of all kinds know more about ADR
- to consider measures that will underwrite public confidence in the quality of ADR services.
Key findings of CEDR Civil Justice Audit - positive impact of new CPR:
The Civil Justice Audit is based on two quantitative surveys, one by MORI among lawyers and the other a questionnaire sent by CEDR to the 30 Designated Civil Judges, and a qualitative study conducted by CEDR with anecdotal evidence gathered from five focus groups around the country.
- 80% of lawyers are satisfied with the CPR
- 76% feel the new CPR have made a positive change on the culture for settlement. Part 36 offers have made an impact
- 36% believe that litigation has decreased rather than increased (16%)
- Almost half (47%) of respondents reported cases settling faster than before with 40% seeing little or no change and only 5% reporting cases settling slower than before
- Over half of those surveyed think that judges should initiate settlement discussions (60% in favour, 28% disagree)
- 58% say that cases should be stayed for mediation or a settlement effort, and seven out of ten judges say they would stay a case if requested by the parties.
- 78% of in-house lawyers believe mediation should be required at some point if a business dispute goes to court as opposed to only 40% of external advisers
- 56% of in-house lawyers think the courts should award costs against a party that refuses to take part in ADR (26% of external lawyers).
Eileen Carroll, former litigator and now practising international mediator and Deputy Chief Executive of CEDR commented, "These figures, in particular, should be taken by external advisers as a clear sign that their clients want to be given the opportunity to try mediation, particularly as an alternative to court and that it is most probably the reticence of the external adviser that is preventing them doing so. This was certainly my experience as a litigator. As a mediator I see the sceptical lawyer turned around all the time. Clients play a key role in mediation and so should their lawyers".
Lord Woolf's address - optimism about new CPR:
Lord Woolf expressed his optimism about the continuing success of the new Civil Procedure Rules and said that their success would not have been achieved without the support of the legal profession.
He said that he took great comfort from the Audit finding that 62% of external and 32% of internal lawyers reported that Part 36 offers have had the greatest impact.
The Audit found that only 27% of lawyers felt that judges were adequately trained for case management under the new CPR. Lord Woolf echoed CEDR's calls for continued ADR education not only for judges, but for those involved in mediation, "I agree that judges should be trained, but - and I know that CEDR will not dispute what I have to say - it is also critical that those who take on the job of mediating know what they are doing".
Lord Woolf also congratulated CEDR on its tenth anniversary and said, "Again [CEDR] have been highly constructive by producing this MORI poll, which provides extremely valuable information".
Notes for Editors:
CEDR's Civil Justice Audit conference:
Photographs and transcripts of all sessions available:
- Keynote speech - Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor
- The Civil Justice Audit, presented by Professor Karl Mackie, Chief Executive of CEDR and Roger Stubbs, Managing Director of MORI Financial
- Keynote speech - Lord Woolf, Master of the Rolls
- Judges' panel, including The Rt Hon Sir Richard Scott and The Hon Mr Justice Rix
- Mediation and in-house counsel: the litigator's panel
- Parallel workshop sessions:
- Personal injury and clinical negligence
- Megalitigation and ADR
- Participating in mediation
- Corporate ADR systems today and tomorrow
- ADR systems for the public sector
The CEDR Civil Justice Audit:
The full Audit report is available on the website, www.cedr.co.uk.
The MORI Poll was made possible by a substantial grant given to CEDR by one of its member firms, Addleshaw Booth & Co who also allowed total independence when carrying out the study and analysing its findings.
MORI poll methodology:
MORI, an independent research firm based in London, made 899 calls law firms and corporations in England between March 1 - 10, 2000. They completed 100 telephone interviews involving 23 questions each plus two screener questions to establish if the respondent was eligible to take part. Of that sample, 50% were the head of litigation of external law firms and 50% were corporate or in-house lawyers. Each interview was no more than ten minutes in length, and all the persons who completed the poll said they were actively involved in litigation and claimed to know "a great deal" or a "fair amount" about the new Civil Procedure Rules. Of the total respondents, 59% had been involved in litigation for more than ten years. Names of external lawyers were chosen from the CEDR database of the top 340 national law firms (ranked by number size and turnover) of which 66% of the respondents were from the top 200 law firms in London. The list of 620 corporate lawyers was drawn from both the CEDR database and Dun & Bradstreet and the latter were organisations with an annual turnover of £10 million or more. In total, 83 % of the respondents were from the South of England, 11% from the Midlands and 6% from the North. All the fieldwork for the MORI poll was carried out by FACTS International in Kent, with fully trained and experienced interviewers using CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing).
CEDR (the Centre for Dispute Resolution) is internationally recognised as providing expert third party conflict management and unparalleled mediator training.
CEDR is a not-for-profit organisation with charitable status. Its mission is to encourage cost effective dispute prevention and dispute resolution in commercial and public sector disputes and in civil litigation. CEDR operates in the UK and internationally and has been instrumental in helping to bring ADR into the heart of business practice and into the judicial system.
CEDR has managed over 3,000 mediation referrals covering every industry sector and a wide-ranging cross section of disputes and case values ranging from less than £5,000 to £1bn.
For further information:
Dan Wood, CEDR, 020 7600 0500, firstname.lastname@example.org