The Differences Between Mediation and Collaborative Law

I asked Lanyon Bowdler's Senior Partner and Head of the Family Department Peter Flint, what the key differences are between these two methods of matrimonial dispute resolution?

He responded as follows:

"For either process a client would need to seek either a fully trained collaborative lawyer or a qualified mediator. 

"In mediation the Clients have a meeting or a series of meetings with a mediator, whose function is to work with the clients in assisting them in reaching an agreement to resolve the issues between them.  Although mediators are frequently qualified lawyers, the mediator is not allowed to provide any legal advice during the course of the mediation process.  Mediation is at present purely a voluntary process, and at any stage during the process the clients can go back to their respective solicitors for legal advice.  An agreement reached in mediation is not of itself legally binding.  The agreement can be made legally binding, for example by it being incorporated into a Court order or a Separation Deed.

"Collaborative Law involves adopting a similar team work approach, but the meetings are held between the clients and their respective collaborative lawyers.  At the outset of the process the Clients have to sign a Participation Agreement in which they agree not to take any Court action or threaten to take any Court action during the collaborative process; that they will work together with their lawyers with a view to achieving a fair and reasonable agreement which will be of benefit to their children; and that if they cannot reach agreement and have to refer their dispute to a Court, then they have to instruct new solicitors to represent each of them."

If you feel one of these methods of resolving a dispute could be right for you, contact Peter on 01743 280280 or email him at