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Registry Trust runs the public Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines under contract to the Ministry of Justice. Registry Trust has successfully maintained and expanded the public Register, operating on an impartial and not for profit basis since 1985.

Access to the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines is open to all. Users and customers of the Register include those who want information when they have been refused credit; due diligence companies; credit reference agencies who support lenders for the underwriting of debt, and making of informed credit decisions; economists and academics; government departments and the Insolvency Service prior to processing a petition for bankruptcy.

We welcome the opportunity to comment on the Use of Mediation in the Civil Justice System consultation. In our response, we make comments and suggestions on how the civil justice processes could be made more efficient and effective.

We note that the Executive Summary indicates that mediation is expected to assist an additional 272,000 parties every year, in addition to diverting 20,000 cases each year from the court system. It would be helpful to see the data supporting these figures as typically, Registry Trust see over 200,000 judgments issued per quarter.

An HMCTS blog post (Mediation: Resolving small claim disputes without going to court-Inside HMCTS ( about the mediation service, from 2020, indicated that in the previous year, mediation had resolved 9000 cases. These numbers demonstrate the amount of concentrated effort and progress needed in order to reach the targets quoted in the executive summary.

It is important to point out that current County Court Judgments form a key part of the economic infrastructure. More than 200 million credit and lending decisions are taken every single year which rely on timely accurate data involving CCJs. Serious thought needs to be applied to the consequences of reducing that dataset (via mediation) and the impact on the organisations that rely so heavily on CCJ data as part of their overall approach to risk. This goes above and beyond lending, with the fields of due diligence; property; insurance; foster care and socio-economic understanding and research all potentially impacted by such a step.

Registry Trust recognise that the current court system is in the process of modernising, and that more could be done to simplify and streamline processes, to improve the user experience and deliver a better justice system. Registry Trust would welcome the chance to build a productive collaborative relationship to discuss potential improvements in full. Increasing the Use of Mediation in the Civil Justice System: Consultation

1.We propose to introduce automatic referral to mediation for all small claims (generally those valued under £10,000). Do you think any case types should be exempt from the requirement to attend a mediation appointment? If so, which case types and why?

All case types should be eligible for mediation, as they are currently, but should not have mediation pre-determined for them. The impact assessment indicates there is evidence that court users ‘do not understand the mediation process and its benefits’. We were not able to locate the evidence that showed lack of understanding was a key driver, but would suggest that an extremely cost-effective solution that could be trialled would be to look at how best to improve the clarity and communication around the benefits of mediation before taking the step of mandating mediation.

Default judgments (undefended) will not be impacted by mediation, and will proceed straight to court. Claimants may well feel this places an extra obstacle in their quest for justice if the defendant in their case chooses to defend their case, which means an automatic referral for mediation. This is also likely to result in costs for the business (referred to in the impact assessment), albeit not for the individual court user. Mediation may not resolve the issue, but will absolutely delay progression of the case; mediation will also mean further costs for the business involved. This may well be perceived as creating a barrier to justice, instead of improving access to justice.

There is an unacknowledged challenge here, in promoting mediation for those who fail to engage with the process at all (the cases that are uncontested or considered default judgments). Uncontested cases can occur because defendants have no funds with which to pay, so mediation doesn’t seem like a logical step to take; because defendants are struggling to engage with the process or even acknowledging that there is a problem, so won’t be aware that there may be a solution; or for those who never know about the judgment because all of the documentation has gone to an old address.

In January to March 2022, there were 229,000 judgments, of which 217,751 were under the £10,000 claim value. However a total 207,000 judgments were default judgments, and would therefore not have been referred for mediation. Civil Justice Statistics Quarterly:January to March 2022 - GOV.UK ( The statistics indicating a 55% success rate look promising, but may be inadvertently misleading.

Thought should be given to the impact of mediation being undertaken willingly in those cases, and whether or not that impacts the success rate of mediation. Our overriding concern is that without addressing the issue of default judgments, the impact and effect of introducing mandatory mediation for claims under £10,000 will not have the desired impact on court backlogs and efficiency levels. Registry Trust would welcome the chance to work with the Ministry of Justice to look at alternative initiatives which could have a greater immediate impact at less cost.

2. Do you think that parties should be able to apply for individual exemptions from the requirement to attend mediation, assessed on a case-by-case basis by a judge? If so, why? And what factors do you think should be taken into consideration?

Parties should absolutely be able to request exemption from the requirement to attend mediation. Each request should be reviewed independently and considered on merit. That said, this will take time, effort and resource on all parties to the process, including the court service overall, and needs to be factored in when considering staffing and funding questions. For the c. 10,700 cases that this may impact per quarter (based on figures in Q1), we would again urge prioritisation of measures and steps that would have more of a positive impact, at far less cost.

Possible exemptions to mediation might be because the parties have already attempted mediation outside of the court process, via ADR, so would simply be duplicating efforts and delaying their access to justice.

3. How do you think we should assess whether a party who is required to mediate has adequately engaged with the mediation process?

It is likely that professional mediation groups would best be able to answer how to assess if parties have adequately engaged with the process or not, as a result of their professional experience and expertise. As a bare minimum, engagement would consist of attending the initial meeting, and remaining throughout.

4. The proposed consequences where parties are non-compliant with the requirement to mediate without a valid exemption are an adverse costs order (being required to pay part or all of the other party’s litigation costs) or the striking out of a claim or defence. Do you consider these proposed sanctions proportionate and why?

There are concerns over the penalty for non-compliance with mediation.

  • For mediation to work, it has to be voluntary. The imposition of a penalty for
  • This question can only really be answered once it is decided how to decide what cases might/might not be exempt from mediation, and what considerations might be valid. Currently there would be far too much inconsistency, which would be confusing for court staff handling queries, as well as both parties to the process.
  • The likelihood is that the court service may see a small decrease in the number of cases going to court, but a significant increase in the number of complaints received as a result of fees imposed, solely due to an innovation which at heart, is meant to make courts more effective and efficient.

5. Please tell us if you have any further comments on the proposal for automatic referral to mediation for small claims.

The consistently high percentage of default judgments (90%) indicate that mediation will make little difference to court efficiency or backlogs. There are other steps the courts could take which would ease the burden on court staff at a far lower cost, and with a far more immediate impact. Acknowledgement also needs to be made that the court service is still struggling to resolve the backlogs of cases, particularly in London and the South East. Adding another variable to the speed of case progression is not likely to help.

Moreover, the cost of recruiting and retaining trained mediators could be extremely high, without providing the return on investment required. The courts and Ministry of Justice have struggled for a number of years to both recruit and retain their staff. The level of recruitment required would be considerable, and take a substantial period of time to achieve. Staff retention would need to be understood and acted upon to make sure that expensive hiring exercise was not then to no avail as those same staff then left or moved to different departments.

6. Do you have experience of the Small Claims Mediation Service?


7. Did you receive information about the Small Claims Mediation Service? If you received information, how useful was it?


8. How can we improve the information provided to users about this service?

Lessons need to be learned about the low take up of the existing mediation service before trying to see how to improve information provided. Clarity of overall communication could be significantly improved, and made user-friendly.

It may be that the quality of the information is fine, but it is not accessible because it is not advertised properly; not fully understood by the people recommending it; not widely known about by the people who might promote it for the court service etc. This is acknowledged in the impact assessment.

9. What options should be available to help people who are vulnerable or have difficulty accessing information get the guidance they need?

Accessibility needs have to be properly and fully considered. Accessing mediation is not mentioned in any detail within the consultation, beyond the reference to mediation happening via phone. This is not sufficient to fully address the needs of consumers. Information needs to be provided about helping those who are vulnerable for any reason; those who may be able to access information, but require it in a different format; language barriers and so forth.

10. What else do you think we could do to support parties to participate effectively in

mediation offered by the Small Claims Mediation Service?

As above.

11. Does there need to be stronger accreditation, or new regulation, of the civil mediation sector? If so what – if any – should be the role of government?

Existing regulation of civil mediation, outside of linked professions (i.e.: lawyer) appears limited. Given the scaling up of the professionals needed should this scheme be brought into place, the role could be open to abuse without some sort of professional accreditation or qualification.

12. Which existing organisation(s) could be formally recognised as the accreditation body

for the civil mediation profession and why?

There is an existing body – the Civil Mediation Council who would likely to able to assist here. Civil Mediation Council — The No. 1 information resource for civil,commercial and workplace mediation in England and Wales. Alternatively, there would be a natural link between the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) and the accreditation or regulation of civil mediators.

13. What is your view on the value of a national Standard for mediation? Which groups or individuals should be involved in the development of such a Standard?

If this measure is to be introduced, then a formal standard would be required. Various professional groups (typically Solicitors Regulation Authority) are already involved in mediation work, yet operate under a different regulatory umbrella. A suggestion would be to ask those regulatory groups to come up with a Mediation Code of Practice/Standard for both professional mediators, and for the individuals and parties taking part in the mediation.

14. In the context of introducing automatic referral to mediation in civil cases beyond small claims, are there any risks if the government does not intervene in the accreditation or regulation of civil mediators?

Professional civil mediators who are already regulated could reasonably be considered as low-risk in this context. The risk would be the number of self-appointed and self-promoted mediators who establish themselves to take advantage of the mandatory nature of this scheme. Government intervention could be light-touch in asking appropriate Regulatory bodies to create/evolve a Standard and Code of Practice for the future, based on their professional experience.

15. Some mediators will also be working as legal practitioners, or other professionals and therefore subject to regulation by the relevant approved regulator e.g. solicitors offering mediation will already be regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority. Should mediators who are already working as legal practitioners or other professionals be exempt from any additional regulatory or accreditation requirements for their mediation activities?

Potential mediators who are already regulated by other professional bodies could be considered exempt. Given the nature of mediation itself, it seems unlikely that the standards would change significantly between regulated groups. The challenge here would be to ensure than any new accreditation or standard, met the existing standards of established regulatory bodies. To that end, as in our answer to question 13, it would be wise to engage with some of those groups to seek their advice and assistance.

16. Are there any measures that the Small Claims Mediation Service could take to ensure equal access for all to their services, considering any specific needs of groups with protected characteristics and vulnerable users?

Interested support groups would provide better and more informed intelligence on the steps that the Small Claims Mediation Service should take to improve accessibility.

A few options to consider would be to consider those who do not have English as a first language; those who struggle with jargon and terminology; those who are hard of hearing; those who have any kind of vulnerability flag (which may indicate poor decision making or impulse control).


Registry Trust fully support the modernisation of the court service, and are pleased to see the recognition, via the Reform programme, that changes are needed to improve speed, efficiency and cost management. Registry Trust have frequently made the point that we could save the court service in excess of 200 incoming phone calls a week if we were able to provide claimant data on the public Register of Judgments Orders and Fines. Currently we share all information except that final piece of the puzzle, meaning we have to direct people back to the courts for that small but crucial bit of information.

Registry Trust would suggest a smaller, and less expensive change, with far-reaching outcomes, which would be to add claimant data to the public Register. A simple legislative amendment would benefit 100% of court users, reduce incoming calls by over 10,000 calls a year, and it wouldn’t cost the court service money, as the information sharing process and mechanisms are already in-place.