The pilot scheme implemented by the government between February and October 2021 offering mediation in housing possession cases received just 22 referrals and successfully resolved just four cases – a post implementation review revealed last week.
Introduced during a period of strain for the courts as a result of Covid-19 measures, the scheme aided mediation between landlord and tenants to resolve housing disputes to reduce the pressure on the court system.
The review revealed a collection of contextual and structural elements that caused the pilot to fail to reach the numbers estimated by the government prior to its introduction of 10,000 referrals and 3,000 successful cases. From the 22 referred cases by duty advisers to the Society of Mediation, only 9 were mediated. The review also revealed that the total amount of cases that can be classified as successful was 4, where tenant and landlord reached an agreement.
As reported by the Law Society Gazette, respondents were found to hold the view that the offer of mediation was accessible too late in the possession process and therefore was not an appealing method for tenant and landlords. A considerable element that led to the result of the review was the contextual situation of the Covid-19 pandemic. The review disclosed the pandemic to impact referrals due to government interventions reducing claim volumes and parties being less motivated to follow up with a claim.
An example of the impact of Covid-19 was given by a civil servant who described the time of the pilot taking place as unpredictable due to the context of further lockdowns. Other factors leading to the low take up were also identified.
The post implementation review emphasises that the low uptake was also caused by the issues of predicting estimates. The predicted numbers of 10,000 cases suitable for mediation with 3,000 of those resulting successfully were based upon volume of cases from pre-pandemic levels, which left the pilot to have unrealised expectations and low demand at the time of its execution.