Guidance

Small claims mediation service

Free mediation to settle out of court if you've started or received a claim for money.

Mediation to resolve a money dispute

The service is free and helps resolve money disputes without the need for a court hearing.

You work with a trained, neutral mediator from HM Courts and Tribunals Service, who helps you to identify and resolve issues.

Mediation is offered if:

  • all parties involved agree to use the service
  • the claim in your case is up to £10,000
  • you have already made or received a claim

Cases that could typically benefit from mediation include:

  • parking penalties
  • online shopping
  • building works
  • unpaid invoices
  • livestock or pet expenses

Mediation is cheaper for you than going to court, where additional fees and expenses will apply. Many people find they can resolve the dispute quickly through mediation. It takes on average 2 to 3 weeks for a mediation appointment - the target wait for a court date is 30 weeks.

While mediation may help you avoid court, it will not delay your ongoing court process. You must continue to comply with all court directions.

How mediation is offered

If you make a claim and the other party disputes your claim - or, if a claim is made against you and you dispute it - mediation is offered. Both parties must agree to mediation.

If a judge reviews your case the judge may refer your case for mediation.

Once both parties have agreed to mediation, you’ll be given a date and time for your telephone appointment. The appointment will last up to one hour.

Your mediation appointment

During your appointment the mediator:

  • listens to your views and helps you to negotiate a settlement of the dispute
  • speaks to each party separately - you do not talk directly to the other side
  • does not try to force you to find a settlement

Getting the most from mediation

For mediation to work you should:

  • participate in good faith, with the intention of reaching an agreement
  • work with the mediator to find a resolution
  • listen to the points raised by the other party
  • be willing to compromise
  • have the authority to agree a decision during mediation

Someone else can be with you at mediation - this could be a trusted friend, relative, or a solicitor.

Reaching a settlement

If mediation is successful, you’ll make a verbal agreement over the phone. This is legally binding which means that you must comply with it. You’ll be given the terms of the agreement in a document – this is called a settlement agreement.

If either party breaks the terms, then the other party can go to court to ask for a judgment or hearing.

If mediation fails and a court hearing is needed, what happened during the mediation appointment cannot be mentioned in court.

You will not have to wait longer for a court hearing if you choose mediation.

Contact the Small claims mediation service

Telephone: 0300 123 4593

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (except public holidays)

Email: scmreferrals@justice.gov.uk

Published 28 September 2020