Sir: Polly Toynbee ("Lord Mackay's well-intentioned fiasco", 25 October) sums up well the concern for the Lord Chancellor's proposals creating a two-tier system in divorce law. The worry is that the Lord Chancellor is putting too much faith in mediation and punishing those that don't use mediation by potentially withdrawing legal aid. Mediation is a very valuable alternative, but it is exactly that, an alternative route to resolving conflict. It is not a substitute. Mediation should be encouraged and promoted but it should be run in conjunction with court-based remedies and certainly not in place of it.
In Scotland we have a unique opportunity to show the way forward. In Calm (Comprehensive Accredited Lawyer Mediators), we have a group of specialised family lawyers who have been accredited by the Scottish Law Society as family mediators. They have been trained in mediation techniques to provide an all-issues (financial and children) mediation service. In addition, the Scottish Legal Aid Board will fund mediation, so it is available to all parties.
People therefore have the benefit of both approaches and can chose which route is suitable for them. Let us hope the Lord Chancellor looks over his shoulder to see that Scotland is showing the way forward.
Stephen J. Brand
Broughty Ferry, Tayside
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