Non-Court Dispute Resolution and FM5 Court Form: What You Need to Know

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Anna Vollans

Founder of Vollans Mediation

Emotional Support

The Family Court System is overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the number of applications being made.  To ease the backlog, significant changes were introduced on 29th April 2024 to shift towards mediation and other forms of Non-Court Dispute Resolution (NCDR).

What is NCDR Exactly? NCDR stands for Non-Court Dispute Resolution and refers to the variety of ways people can resolve a family dispute without attending court. For many people mediation will continue to be the best option because it is a much cheaper way to reach an agreement than other methods.

Court applications are being made, many of which are from people representing themselves (litigants in-person), with so many negative effects felt by those going through the court process. Some of these were highlighted by a very senior Judge in a recent case…

“Litigation is so often corrosive of trust and scars those who may need to collaborate and co-operate in future to parent children. Furthermore, resources should not be expended to the betterment of lawyers, however able they are, when, with a proper appreciation of its benefits, the parties’ disputes can and should be resolved via non-court dispute resolution”

These changes continue a shift towards making mediation and other forms of NCDR more prominent and effective.

In 2014, it was made mandatory to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before heading to court, unless exempted. From 29th April, parties now need to actively engage in NCDR and provide evidence of this. If a party unreasonably refuses to engage in NCDR, they might have to pay a costs order. This is a big push to get everyone to genuinely consider and participate in NCDR.

Moving forwards, in financial remedy and private law children proceedings, the court will actively consider the suitability of NCDR at each stage of the process. If it can be done safely, the court is likely to view these methods as preferable, especially if the parties and their legal representatives have not previously engaged in any form of NCDR before initiating court proceedings.

In private law children proceedings and in contested financial remedy proceedings parties will now be required to file and serve a new form FM5 (statement of position on non-court dispute resolution) setting out their views on engaging with non-court dispute resolution (except in cases where domestic abuse is an issue). This form will have to be filed and served before the first “on notice” hearing, and, if the court thinks appropriate, before any subsequent hearing in the proceedings.

Simply attending a MIAM will no longer be sufficient for a court application. Parties must set out their position to the Court, indicating why NCDR isn’t an appropriate method to resolve the dispute or — in the alternative — why NCDR hasn’t been successful in resolving the dispute.

At Vollans Mediation we offer a one-to-one individual assessment meeting (a MIAM) where we can talk to you about all of your options, provide you with lots of information and decide together whether mediation is a process that can help you resolve issues whether before or during court proceedings.

Please get in touch if you would like to book an appointment with one of our mediators. You can fill out the form on our contact page here or call us on 0113 213 3662. One of our friendly Mediation Assistants will contact you as soon as possible to answer any queries you might have.

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