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Conceptualisation of family mediation: Access to justice after LASPO

Blakey, Rachael 2021. Conceptualisation of family mediation: Access to justice after LASPO. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Several decades of policy have reinforced mediation as a critical stakeholder in the English and Welsh family justice system, most notably demonstrated through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). This has led to rising demand for mediation to adapt to the needs of a diverse and complex client base with little access to legal support. Despite these calls, mediation reform continues to be governed by the orthodox conceptualisation, based on the limited mediator. The traditional approach binds mediators to a strictly facilitative framework and an absolute vision of neutrality that cannot ensure access to justice post-LASPO. This thesis proposes that the dominant conceptualisation of family mediation in contemporary justice advances a more adaptable, modern mediator, but this role has not been openly recognised. This argument is based on original research in two parts. First, a qualitative text analysis of family mediation Codes of Practice demonstrates the fluidity of modern mediator practice. Its analysis adopts a new theoretical framework of four mediator functions, showing that mediators are allowed to evaluate though their actions are frequently concealed by a facilitative proxy. Second, interview data with 17 family mediators show that the profession largely associates with facilitation but frequently evaluates. It is revealed that mediators seek a settlement that is assessed against a standard of quality, alluding to a more quasi-legal role for the profession in the post-LASPO era. Nevertheless, this modern mediator type is not acknowledged in discussions due to the strong adherence to mediator neutrality. A further barrier to recognising the modern mediator is the prominence of structural issues surrounding the mediation process. Combined, these obstacles lead the thesis to a final call for further regulation of mediators, as well as attitudinal change that recognises the potential of family mediation in achieving access to justice post-LASPO.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: mediation* family mediation* LASPO* socio-legal* empirical legal research* thematic analysis* interviews* family law* professionalism* access to justice*
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 July 2021
Date of Acceptance: 8 July 2021
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2021 14:13

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