The 59th Update to the Civil Procedure Rules came into force on 1 October 2012. Amendments to PD51H (The Mediation Service Pilot Scheme) will allow for a pilot at the County Court Money Claims Centre (CCMCC) for a period of six months, to test the operation of automatic referrals to mediation for low value (£5,000 or less) claims where the parties have indicated that they agree to mediation. The CCMCC deals with designated low value money claims and provide a support service to the County Courts. The outcome of the pilot will inform the approach to be taken in relation to automatic referral to mediation in higher value cases. The key point to note is that there will be no referral unless all parties have agreed to mediate . As such, the pilot falls short of mandatory court-annexed mediation.
The pilot scheme applies to designated county court money claims (excluding road traffic accident, personal injury and housing disrepair claims) for which allocation questionnaires are filed at the CCMC within the six month period of the pilot, where:
- The sum claimed does not exceed £5,000
- All parties indicate on their allocation questionnaire that they agree to mediation
Where these criteria are met, the CCMCC will refer the claim to the Small Claims Mediation Service operated by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service.
Where the claim is settled through mediation, the proceedings will automatically be stayed, with liberty to apply for the purposes of bringing the settlement into effect, unless the parties agree that the claim should be dismissed or discontinued.
See Practice Direction 51H – The Mediation Service Pilot Scheme for more information.