Lord Justice Briggs emphasised that mediation and other resolution processes would not become compulsory, but it would bring the court service into a much closer partnership with the ADR community in providing a suitable resolution process as the ‘primary route’ to resolving civil disputes.
The online court would also build on ‘valuable yet underused’ precedents, LJ Briggs added, highlighting the small-claims track in the unified county court for claims up to £10,000.
LJ Briggs said: "For several years local courts and private mediators cooperated in providing after-hours affordable mediations for county court cases, until it fell foul of the closure of the National Mediation Helpline".
The resolution stage of the new court is not meant to replace or discourage pre-issue dispute resolution. LJ Briggs noted: "The opening pages of the online portal for this court, or opening screens, like all the civil courts in the future once digitised, will emphasise the alternatives to the issue of proceedings and direct would-be litigants to appropriate providers of ADR".
LJ Briggs commented that "With claims under £25,000 accounting for the ‘overwhelming’ majority of civil claims by number, the incorporation of resolution into the mainstream of the proposed new court would have more relevance for mediators than they may initially think".
Mediation will become the cultural norm should a new online court dealing with all monetary claims up to £25,000 become reality, Lord Justice Briggs has predicted. Briggs told the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators’ mediation symposium this morning that his recommendation for a three-stage court will bring alternative dispute resolution ‘into the mainstream’ of civil dispute resolution. ‘It makes resolution by the parties a culturally and actually normal part of civil dispute resolution, rather than something alternative to the mainstream,’ he said.‘In short, it seeks to take the “A” our of “ADR”. That’s why I would like to see the new court called a resolution or solutions court, following the lead set by British Columbia.