The court provides a free mediation service for disputes over money claims for £5,000 or less. Mediation is a way of negotiating an agreement with the help of an impartial third person, without the need to go to court.

The cost of using the service is covered by the court fees which would be paid by the person making the claim.


Mediation can be beneficial for the following reasons:-

  • quicker – a session can take about an hour and you won’t have to wait for months for a court hearing
  • easier to use – it can take place over the phone
  • less formal – it doesn’t involve a judge or a trial


It could also save you money – you can get some court fees paid back if the mediation is successful. You will need to give at least seven days’ written notice to the court before the date of the hearing to get a full refund.


If you choose to use small claims mediation, the mediator, a member of staff from the court, will contact you and the other side to arrange an appointment. Most appointments are carried out over phone. This will save you the cost and trouble of travelling to a court.


If you’d prefer to discuss the problem in person, you can meet the mediator and the other side in a room at a local court. Mediation usually takes about an hour, but can be longer if you need more time. The mediator will give both sides the chance to have their say. They won’t decide what you should do, like a judge would, but will help the two sides find common ground and suggest ways forward.


If the mediation takes place over the phone, the mediator can ring both sides with offers and counter-offers to settle until you reach an agreement.

What you can get out of small claims mediation

Using mediation will give you a chance to informally discuss the issue and reach an agreement that both sides are happy with.


You will have a wider range of options than a judge in the courtroom could provide. For example, you can

  • agree to repay or reclaim part of the sum
  • settle on a repayment plan
  • ask for compensation or an apology


Most sessions end with an agreement, and those who settle usually stick to their agreement.

How to arrange mediation

Contact your local court if you want to try mediation. If you want to try mediation, you should contact your local county court. You can find details of your court using the following link.


If you have already made a small claim or responded to a claim, make sure you contact the court as soon as possible to arrange mediation.


Court staff can give you information on how the service works, but won’t be able to give you legal advice.


If you’re involved in a court claim, you’ll be sent a form called an ‘allocation questionnaire’. The questionnaire will ask you if you want to try to settle the claim by ‘informal discussion or alternative dispute resolution’. Tick the ‘yes’ box if you want to try mediation.


The court will usually delay the court hearing for about a month to allow mediation to take place.

What happens if you don’t come to an agreement

If mediation isn’t a success, then the case can still go to a small claims hearing.


The judge won’t be told about the content of any of the discussions in the mediation, which will remain confidential. However, you’re allowed to tell the court you have tried mediation.

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