Take a look at the short video of the talk given in September 2016 by Mavis Maclean CBE of the University of Oxford on the topic of whether one lawyer can help both parties to a family dispute.

The video clip can be viewed here.

In September 2016 we welcomed Mavis Maclean CBE of the University of Oxford to our second thought leadership talk. She addressed the topic “Can one lawyer help both parties?” Mavis focused on those separating couples who cannot afford to engage a solicitor, do not qualify for legal aid, but still need to know what a fair financial settlement is and what the right arrangements are for their children.  The Government sees mediation as addressing that gap. The difficulty is, however, that mediators are not permitted to provide legal advice.

Mavis Maclean and John Eekelaar, Oxford academics at the Oxford Centre for Family Law and Policy, have written a book examining this issue: Lawyers and Mediators: The Brave New World of Services for Separating Families. In their view, if the parties were able to obtain joint legal advice within the mediation meetings then this stumbling block, of the parties hoping for legal advice but with the mediator unable to provide that advice, would be addressed.

The lawyer/mediator would present the couple with a range of options as to how they could settle matters between them. The lawyer/mediator would proactively help them to come up with a plan that worked for them, and then a draft consent order could be drawn up. When it was all agreed and finalised, they could potentially still see an independent lawyer to have it all signed off. It is, in effect, enhanced mediation.

Maclean and Eekelaar note in their book: ‘If we accept that the legal framework is of value in protecting the vulnerable and promoting fair agreements in family matters in times of stress, it follows that parties need to know what the law requires and how they can agree enforceable decisions in the shadow of the law.’

Take a look at a short video of Mavis’s talk or read the blog – Correcting the Imbalance in Family Mediation – by associate Elizabeth Fletcher which examines the issues raised by Mavis’s talk.

Attendance at the thought leadership talks is by invitation only. If you would like to receive details of future events, please contact Sarah Cloke at Family Law in Partnership – E: sc@flip.co.uk T: 020 7420 5000.