Mediation in the Petty Debts Court
Updated 11 April 2018
Words you may need to know
Mediation - when two or more people who do not agree about something sit with an independent person called a Mediator, to discuss their problem and to try and reach a solution that the people can agree.
What happens at a Mediation?
At the first court hearing of a claim in the Petty Debts Court and at any future hearings, where the value of the matter in dispute is not more than £30,000, the Court will generally refer the case to Mediation. Mediation has a high success rate for getting the parties to reach an agreement to resolve their dispute.
Mediation is less formal than a Court hearing and both parties are expected to talk for themselves. The Mediator is not there to decide who is right or wrong in relation to the dispute. The Mediator does not express a view on the merits of the dispute. The Mediator’s role is to try to facilitate a settlement between the parties i.e. the plaintiff who has brought the claim and the defendant who has been sued.
All discussions between the parties and the Mediator take place in confidence and in private. They cannot be referred to at all if the mediation does not result in a settlement.
A party may attend alone, with a lawyer or with a friend to assist a party. However, the purpose of the mediation is to get the parties to talk to each other about their dispute and how to resolve it.
No costs are awarded in mediation so if you take a lawyer with you to a mediation hearing you will not be able to claim the money back for any charges the lawyer made.
Mediation hearings ordered by the Magistrate are conducted by an independent Relief Magistrate. The hearings, which usually last no more than 1 hour, are held at The Magistrate's Court, Union Street, St. Helier on Tuesday afternoons or Friday mornings. You will be allocated a specific time to attend
Each person brings to the mediation all their information such as copies of invoices, letters etc. They will be expected to explain their position briefly, e.g. what their claim is about or why they dispute the claim.
Having heard from both parties the Court’s Mediator, who is a qualified lawyer, will encourage the parties to find a solution. The Mediator may explain the issues the Court has to decide and may explain the process the Court will follow if the matter is not settled. However the Mediator will not express a view on the merits of the dispute.
If the parties do reach agreement the terms of the agreement will be written down and signed by both parties. The agreement will record the terms agreed. Usually this means it will say what money is to be paid and when it must be paid by. Each party will receive a copy of the signed agreement.
If you do settle at mediation, the outcome will be kept confidential. The agreement is not a judgment and information will not be given to Credit Agencies so your credit rating will not be affected. This is one of the reasons why going to mediation is a good option.
If an agreement is reached but then the agreement is broken the other party can bring the case back to Court and ask for the agreement to be enforced.
If Mediation is unsuccessful
If the mediation is unsuccessful and no agreement is reached the Mediator, as a Relief Magistrate, will require the parties, if they have not already done so, to provide to the Court written pleadings. The Mediator will specify the times by which this will be done in a written court order. A copy of the order will be given to you. Once this is done, the mediation is over and the Mediator will not have anything else to do with the case.
The case will also be referred back to the Petty Debts Court, for the Court to give further directions once pleadings have been filed. At this hearing the Court will issue whatever other orders are needed to enable the case to go to a trial.