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The Civil Mediation Council (CMC) has recently announced plans to establish an independent chartered regulatory body to advise on and develop professional standards for mediators.

The CMC is a membership organisation for mediators and associated professionals, which operates a voluntary system of accreditation and oversight based on minimum standards of training, experience, conduct, insurance, and complaints handling. 

The plans reportedly involve the establishment of a new Mediation Standards Board, independent of the CMC Board,  which will take over the existing work of the CMC’s registration and standards committee and its independent complaints process.  

Notably, the announcement reportedly suggested that the new independent body might include a standalone board specifically focused on setting standards for court-referred mediation  - ie. mediation either integrated into the court process or directed by judges on a case by case basis. That is particularly relevant in light of:

  1. The Court of Appeal's decision last year (in Churchill) that civil litigants can be compelled to mediate, provided that their fundamental rights are sufficiently protected. 
  2. The recent integration of mediation as a mandatory procedural step in County Court Small Claims (with the possibility of extending this to higher value claims still on the Government's policy agenda).
  3. The Government's consultation last summer on whether there is a need for increased regulation and oversight of the mediation industry, potentially by statutory regulation and/or the establishment of an industry regulator. In its response, the Government noted the current voluntary system of mediator accreditation and oversight provided by bodies such as the CMC and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and concluded:

     "Given the strength of this existing self-regulation, we have concluded that statutory regulation of the entire civil mediation sector would be disproportionate."
    "We believe the existing self-regulatory system is well placed to enhance its role and work with government to facilitate the introduction of integrated mediation to higher value claims by further promoting standards and consistency in the sector."

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Jan O'Neill

Professional Support Lawyer, London

Jan O'Neill
Jan O'Neill