We previously reported on the commencement of a pilot scheme at the County Court Money Claims Centre (CCMCC), to test the operation of automatic referrals to mediation for low value claims where the parties have indicated that they agree to mediation. The CCMCC deals with designated low value money claims and provides a support service to the County Courts.
The pilot scheme, initially planned for 6 months, was subsequently extended to 2 years, through to April 2014. At its meeting on 6 December 2013, the Civil Procedure Rules Committee (CPRC) considered a report evaluating the effectiveness of the pilot and agreed that the scheme should be made permanent.
That change has now been effected through amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules, principally through a new Rule 26.4A (which mirrors the provisions for the pilot programme, previously found in Practice Direction 51I).
As previously observed, the key point to note is that there will be no referral to mediation unless all parties have agreed to mediate. As such, the new rules fall short of mandatory court-annexed mediation.