26 March 2015

UK Expert Panel Releases Report on Child-Inclusive Mediation

The Voice of the Child Dispute Resolution Advisory Group released its final report (PDF) today. The advisory group was established by the UK Ministry of Justice to promote child-inclusive practice in out of court dispute resolution processes. The report proposes a new framework, process flow chart and agreement to mediate for child inclusive mediation and makes 32 recommendations, the most significant of which, in my view, are these:
  1. a presumption should be adopted that children and youth 10 and older should have the opportunity to have their voices heard if they wish; 
  2. pilot projects should be established to evaluate different models of child inclusive mediation; 
  3. the proposed framework and process flow chart should be adopted;
  4. mediation should remain confidential, as should the communications between the mediator and child;
  5. mediators should override children's wishes about disclosure and non-disclosure onluy in exceptional circumstances;
  6. competent children should be able to have their voices heard, regardless of parental consent; and,
  7. children should be provided with quality, age-appropriate information about separation.
The recommendations contained in this report are pragmatic and thoughtful, and propose a welcome extension of children's rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to have their voices heard in court proceedings affecting their interests.

Read the terms of reference for the advisory group and government's response (PDF) to the advisory group's final report.