Lewis Hulatt, South East Consultant of Major Family Law, the top divorce and family law specialists, comments:-
I like mediation as a tool to help people settle disputes. The BBC decided to open the toolbox and show people mediation in practice with the help of National Family Mediation(NFM). Each week, the show concentrates on the stories of three couples dipping in and out of sessions and footage of their lives outside mediation – we get the back-story in a way that the mediators themselves probably have no clue about.
Although it makes ‘good telly’, it may not be representative. Saying that, I can recognise the kind of interpersonal conflicts that us family lawyers deal with all the time – particularly how unresolved issues like jealousy and control interfere. The women shown are presented as somewhat unreasonable, selfish, bitter and ignorant. That may be editing, but the mediators largely fail to re-frame what is said to reduce conflict or make them sound less unreasonable.
I was amazed that NFM did not appear to require appropriate financial disclosure before reaching a deal or explain its necessity.
Although I warmed to Irene, the younger mediator, the miserable and disengaged mediators did little to ‘sell’ mediation apart from the old NFM line of lawyers being an expensive alternative.
After this programme, I think the public might prefer the alternative.