Nicola Crowther’s views on MIAM features in IFA Magazine

By 5th July 2023 No Comments

Nicola Crowther, founder of Crowther Mediation, explains the importance of a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) and the value of strengthening existing rules and practice directions to encourage earlier resolution of private family law and financial remedy arrangements.

Seismic changes


Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2014 brought about seismic changes in procedure for family law and family mediation, not least of all with the introduction of the MIAM – Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.

It could be argued that the MIAM is nothing new, mediators have been doing pre-mediation intake/assessment meetings for years. However, under the current family procedure rules, these assessment meetings now carry a great deal more gravitas and play an important role in the family law legal framework. Those individuals looking to issue proceedings in the family courts need to first of all provide evidence of their attendance at a MIAM.

Problems with the court system


Perhaps an overburdened court system results in a lack of ‘gatekeeping’, with applications being issued without accurate checks having taken place. But surely the lack of a MIAM having taken place, is something which would be addressed at a first directions appointment?  Sadly not. Many judges believe the MIAM requirement has been checked at the administrative stage and despite the practice rules allowing for the judiciary to halt proceedings until a MIAM has taken place, in my experience this is very rarely used or enforced.

It seems the process is shrouded in confusion, with judges believing court administration staff are responsible and court admin. staff believing this is judicial domain. The result of this confusion is an enormous backlog of cases, many of which could be dealt through mediation.

Strengthen current practice directions


Statistics from our own practice and our profession show that most people who attend a MIAM will agree to mediate rather than apply to court. This information shows we don’t need to make mediation compulsory, we just need to enforce, or strengthen, the current practice directions to ensure court proceedings are a last resort for families and all alternative forms of dispute resolution are considered first.

To conclude, as a leading independent mediation practice we believe that change comes from consultation from the top down. Our judiciary needs to send a clear message – cases will not proceed without evidence of both parties having attended a MIAM. This would result in less applications being made to court and administrative staff being less burdened. But, most importantly, it will reduce long term conflict in families with children.

View the full article on the IFA Website.