My Lawyer Told Me I Need To Make a Court Application

The scene: mediators’ consulting rooms all over England and Wales.

Client: “My lawyer told me I need to make a court application. I need a signed MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) certificate.”

Mediator: “Why do you need to go to court?”

Client: “Because my wife and her lawyer are not engaging with my lawyer.”

Mediator: “When did you first engage your lawyer?”

Client: “About a year ago.”

Mediator: “And what have they been doing for you in that time?”

Client: “Writing letters to my wife and her lawyer.”

Mediator: “How much have you spent on your lawyer since then?”

Client: “Probably around £6,000.”

Mediator: “And why do you think it’s now that they have recommended that you go to court?”

Client: “Because my ex won’t provide details of her income and assets. She’s ignoring my lawyer’s emails.”

Mediator: “What’s your relationship like with your wife?”

Client: “Well it used to be okay but it’s now really difficult. And it’s affecting the children.”

Mediator: “So, you’ve paid them £6,000. What do you feel has been achieved?”

Client: “Well, nothing now you mention it.”

Mediator: “Imagine they’d referred you to a mediator before you’d spent all that money. If mediation had taken place and been successful, it’s likely to have cost you much less than half of what you have spent on lawyers. And if it hadn’t taken place, that would indicate that there would be no point in your lawyers writing letters. You would have known you would need to make a court application. In other words, you wouldn’t have spent £6,000”

Client: “I see what you mean”.

Mediator:”Has your lawyer explained how long it might take and how much it would cost if you went to court and had a judge decided the outcome for you?”

Client: “Not really. She said if it settled it could cost only £5,000.”

Mediator: “If it settled. But it’s not settling at the moment is it? I estimate, that based on a charge rate of £xxx plus VAT per hour, it could cost around £XX,XXX plus the court fee, barrister’s fees and other expnses like your lawyers travel costs to court. It could take around 15 months, depending on which court you’re in.”

Client has a shocked look on their face.

Mediator: “Family solicitors practice codes require them to discuss mediation with their clients at their first meeting. It’s been well known for many years that mediation can work for most people in your situation. Unfortunately, because so few of lawyers do so, MIAMs had to be introduced to make sure that people like you heard about the alternative ways to solve problems or resolve disputes. At least half the people I meet in a MIAM will tell me that their spouse is not engaging with their lawyer. It really isn’t unusual and it’s well understood to be a consequence of the adversarial way lawyers work. But what we find as mediators is that these people who are said to be not engaging are more than willing to provide the information that the other person has been asking for. It’s simply a matter of the way the issue is approached. Mediators do it in a non-threatening and supportive way. So, shall I now help you understand how mediation works, how the court system works, and what other options there might be so that you can make an informed choice about what to do next?”

Client: “Yes, please.”

Mediator then continues with the meeting…







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