The Ninth Mediation Audit – Five Things you Need to Know

by Ben Thomson

The CEDR Mediation Audit, the only one of its kind in the world, is a biennial report on the development of the Commercial Mediation market in the United Kingdom.

Conducted by way of a survey, open to the whole UK Mediator population, its primary focus is to assess how the mediation marketplace and mediation attitudes continue to evolve.

The full report can be accessed here.

In addition, we sat down with the author of the audit, Graham Massie, to give a headline overview of the findings. The podcast can be found here.

However, here is a brief summary of the five things you need to know from the Ninth Mediation Audit.

1. How Many Mediations?

In 2018, the audit reported 12,000 mediations as having taken place in the United Kingdom per annum.

It is estimated that for the year to 31 March 2020 (before the COVID-19 pandemic) the size of the civil and commercial mediation market in England & Wales was 16,500 cases per annum.

This represents a 38% increase on the 2018 figure.

Looking specifically at where this growth came from, there was a 53% increase in ad hoc referrals of individual cases compared with 2018’s level.

There was steady growth in scheme-related activity, which saw an 11% increase, accounting for just over 30% of all mediation activity.

By way of comparison, in 2003, the first audit reported just under 2,000 mediation cases which illustrates how far the profession has grown in the past 17 years.

2. Mediation Improves on its Already Impressive Settlement Rate

Since the Audit’s inception, a consistently high settlement rate has been reported.

This iteration revealed a 4% increase to 93% in overall settlement rate compared with 2018 (89%).

This is broken down into 72% of cases settling on the day, with a further 21% settling shortly after following significant progress being made in mediation.

There is no concrete data on whether online mediation has impacted the settlement rate of cases. However, CEDR’s own statistics show at circa 90% settlement rate for online mediations, something which is conferred, anecdotally by mediators.

3. Diversity and Inclusion – Some Progress but Big Problems Remain

In recent editions, the Mediation Audit has been looking closely at the issue of Diversity and Inclusion in the profession.

In 2019, the CEDR Foundation published a report looking specifically at this issue which highlighted what many knew to be a problem. Details on its findings can be found here.

In terms of what this Audit found, there was significant progress made with respect to female representation in the profession.

Of the ‘Advanced Group’ of Mediators, i.e., those mediating regularly, the proportion of women rose from 24% in 2018 to 41% in 2020. While recognising there is still work to do, this is a big step forward for the Mediation profession. It also moves us closer to the legal profession where the Law Society reports that 49% of private practice solicitors are women, and beyond the number of female private practice partners (31%).

However, when it comes to non-white representation, the findings demonstrate that significant progress is still needed. Compared with lawyers (17%), only 8% of mediators are non-white. This also markedly falls behind societal representation.

The Audit canvassed the views of respondents for solutions to the Diversity problem, details of which can be found in the report and will be the subject of future discussion and initiatives by CEDR.

4. COVID-19 and the Rise of Online Mediation

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were surprised to learn that as much as 10% of mediations were being conducted online. However, this online practice was the reserve of a small minority of mediators (2%).

Following the immediate shock caused by national lockdown, the mediation profession responded quickly, adapting well to the online environment, culminating in only a 35% drop in cases mediated between March and September 2020. It was feared at the time the drop would be much more severe. Additionally, of all the mediations conducted during that period, 89% were online.

As discussed above, the settlement rate for online mediation remains roughly consistent with mediating in-person, suggesting this forum is here to stay and will be widely used in the future.

5. The Mediation Profession Packs a Punch

Since its inception, the Audit has demonstrated the tremendous economic impact made by mediation. Here are the standout figures:

  • The total value of cases mediated annually (pre-pandemic) – £17.5 billion (£11.5 billion, 2018).
  • Since the launch of Commercial Mediation in 1990, the total value of cases mediated in England and Wales – £155 billion.
  • The savings made by businesses and individuals in the quicker and more effective resolution of commercial disputes per annum – £4.6 billion.
  • Since 1990, the total savings made by businesses and individuals – £40 billion.

Further Reading and Insight

To access the full Mediation Audit, click here.

To listen to an executive summary and the author, Graham Massie’s insight, listen to our podcast here.


Tailored Insights for You

Sign-up to receive regular insights on topics ranging from effective Conflict Management and Negotiation to Commercial Mediation and ADR Thought Leadership.