HC Deb 18 November 2003 vol 413 c794W
Mr. Oaten

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what action the Lord Chancellor is taking to promote the use of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution in(a) civil and (b) criminal cases. [138770]

Mr. Lammy

The Government have long held the view that litigation should be the dispute resolution method of last resort. The Civil Procedure Rules encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution, as do the pre-action protocols, which seek to encourage the settlement of disputes before court proceedings are issued. One of this Department's Public Service Agreement targets is to reduce the proportion of disputes that are resolved by resort to the courts. As part of the programme of work designed to achieve this, a number of court based pilot mediation schemes are being developed that will actively encourage the use of mediation. These will complement the local schemes that are already in operation, or under consideration, in a several of courts in England and Wales. The Government are also keen to expand the use of restorative justice in the adult criminal justice system, as well as continuing to build on its success in the youth justice system. Activity in this area is led by the Home Office, which published a strategy, in the form of a consultation document, in July 2003. The strategy covers both restorative justice, which involves mediated contact between offender and victim, and reparation to the community. The Home Office will publish a summary of the consultation responses on its website in the New Year.

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