Ministry of Justice


three people sat around a desk

The Ministry of Justice is responsible for developing policy on alternative methods of dispute resolution.

Courts should be the last resort for people involved in civil or family disputes.

Mediation, in particular, can be a flexible, speedy and cost effective way to resolve disputes. It is a confidential process that enables both parties to explain and then discuss what their needs and concerns are to each other in the presence of an independent third party – the mediator – so that they reach an agreement between themselves.

The individuals concerned have greater control and responsibility in resolving disagreements rather than lawyers or the courts. In this way, mediation empowers parties to control the length of the process, the issues they would like to discuss, and the outcome. 

Mediation and civil disputes

Mediation can be used to resolve a whole range of everyday disputes – including housing issues, business disputes, small claims, debt claims, boundary disputes, employment disputes, contractual disputes, personal injury and negligence claims as well as community disputes such as nuisance or harassment issues.

Mediation and family cases

Mediation can be particularly beneficial where there is a continuing relationship following dispute resolution – such as in family cases. Where decisions about contact and residency of children are being made family mediation can help reduce hostility and improve chances of long-term co-operation where this is necessary, for example in agreeing arrangements for child contact.

There are a range of national mediation organisations that can either help you directly or put you in touch with someone in your area. The details of the main ones are below, but you can find more information by searching for ‘mediation’ on

The Family Mediation Helpline (FMH)

A helpline dedicated to providing information on using mediation in family matters (such as separation). They can also put you in touch with local family mediators. Call 0845 60 26 627 or visit family mediation helpline website.

The National Mediation Helpline (NMH)

The National Mediation Helpline can provide you with general information on mediation and answer your questions. They can also put you in touch with mediators trained to help you with problems such as debt, problems at work, goods you have bought or with housing. Telephone 0845 60 30 809 or visit the national mediation helpline website.

Small Claims Mediation Service

The Small Claims Mediation Service deals with monetary claims under £5,000 that are already going through the courts. If both parties agree to using mediation, they will be contacted by the service. As most cases are dealt with by telephone, they save the time and the expense of having to go to court. Information on the Small Claims Mediation Service can be found Her Majesty's Courts Service website.