Courts and tribunals in England and Wales are not under a general express obligation to stay proceedings in favour of mediation. However, Rule 26.4(1)-(3) of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) provides that ‘a party may, when filing the completed directions questionnaire, make a written request for the proceedings to be stayed while the parties try to settle the case by alternative dispute resolution or other means’. If ‘all parties request a stay’ or ‘if the court otherwise considers that such a stay would be appropriate’, the proceedings will be stayed for one month, or for such other period as the court considers appropriate, and the court may extend the stay as it considers fit. Further, courts and tribunals are subject to the overriding objective, under CPR 1.4(1), to deal with cases justly by actively managing cases which, under CPR1.4(2)(e), includes ‘encouraging the parties to use an [ADR] procedure if the court considers that appropriate and facilitating the use of such procedure’. Arbitrators are also not under a general express obligation to stay proceedings in favour of mediation. However, the terms of some dispute resolution clauses may expressly provide for a stay or state that it is a matter for the discretion of the arbitrators. Even when the terms of dispute resolution clauses are silent or state that a stay is a matter of discretion, arbitrators will generally be prepared to order a stay if the parties have a genuine desire to attempt mediation. As part of considering whether to grant a stay, courts, tribunals and arbitrators will be mindful of the timetable for progressing the proceedings, and in particular any fixed date(s) for the hearing. A stay may be more readily granted when the timetable is not substantially affected, and so can reasonably be adjusted, and the date(s) for the hearing can remain the same. In more exceptional cases, there is the possibility of fixed date(s) for the hearing being adjourned provided that a good reason is given.

error: Content is protected !!