The public's appetite for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is greater than ever. The expense, investment of time involved in court proceedings and the courts' greater enthusiasm for exploring the possibilities of ADR ensure the continued growth in this sector.

Those opting for mediation as a means of dispute resolution require assurance as to the quality of the service being provided. The Society operates two recognised mediation schemes: Family Law Mediation, with around 50 accredited family mediators, and Commercial Law Mediation, with around five accredited mediators. The period of accreditation for both specialisms has been standardised at three years.

1. The Council of the Law Society of Scotland’s system of accreditation of specialists by a suitably qualified Accreditation Panel confers specialist status on practising solicitors who can demonstrate expertise gained from practising in the specialism and can show significant experience in that specialism. Each Panel is made up of solicitor members experienced in either family mediation or commercial mediation.

2. On original application applicants should be able to demonstrate suitable training and have relevant experience. The applicant must produce a report about their mediation skills from the mediation trainer who observed them in role plays as a mediator during a foundation mediation training course lasting more than thirty hours.

If the applicant has completed such a foundation mediation training course more than three years prior to the date of the original application, without proceeding to accreditation, then they require to undertake a further foundation mediation training course lasting no less than 15 hours and to produce a satisfactory report about their mediation skills from a Mediation Trainer who observed them in role plays as a Mediator during that course.

3. ‘Relevant experience’ is assessed by the Panel taking into consideration among other factors the following areas in assessing Applicant’s fitness to be Accredited:

(a)   Role in those cases, if any (advisor, observer, mediator).

(b)   Attendance at suitable training course (including in-house courses where appropriate).

(c)    Participation in teaching at training courses (including in-house courses where appropriate).

(d)   Authorship of books, articles, website and in-house materials.

(e)   Discipline, complaints and claims record.

(f)    Other relevant matters.

(g)   References.

In order to be eligible for reaccreditation, Family Mediators require undertake no less than 15 hours of Continuing Professional Development per annum, comprising:

  • A minimum of 6 hours mediation training;
  • 5 hours Family Law training of which 2 hours require to be on financial provisions.
    • 1 peer review in co-mediation per annum (which may include role-play) and,
    • 1 assessment of competence by an approved assessor in each 3 year period of accreditation.

Where an applicant was accredited or re-accredited on a date no more than six years prior to the date of the current application, a satisfactory assessment report from a suitable Mediation Assessor will require to be submitted with an explanation about why re-accreditation was not sought within 3 years and evidence of CPD and mediation practice since last accreditation.  If the applicant had last been granted Accreditation more than six years before the date of the current application, they require to undertake a further foundation mediation training course lasting no less than 15 hours and to produce a satisfactory report about their mediation skills from a Mediation Trainer who observed them in role plays as a Mediator during that course.

5. If the application is successful, the Applicant will be accredited as a family or commercial mediator for a period of 3 years and will be entitled to apply for renewal of the accreditation at the end of that period. The onus is on the applicant to apply for re-accreditation, no less than two months in advance of expiry of the accreditation period.  Re-accreditation will run from the expiry date notwithstanding the date of a Panel’s meeting or consideration of an application.

6. The fee for an application to be accredited or re-accredited as a mediator  is £200 plus VAT (£240). The fee is non-returnable.

7. Applicants should advise the Panel of the details of any complaint intimated to them by the Law Society of Scotland which has been made against them or their firm as a result of their actings in the course of the last 3 years.  The Law Society of Scotland may delay making a decision on the application until any such complaint or claim has been decided or resolved.

8. In the event of the Panel refusing an Application, the Applicant may ask the Panel to reconsider their decision within 28 days of intimation of that refusal and may submit additional material in support of their request.  In the event their review results in a further refusal, they can appeal that decision in writing to the Education and Training (Policy) of intimation of that further refusal and the Panel will make all information relating to the decision available to the Education and Training (Policy) Committee for that purpose. 

9. Applicants should be aware that the Council of the Law Society of Scotland may suspend the Accreditation before the expiry of the three year period. This may take place if circumstances come to the attention of the Council which would make this course of action appropriate.

10. Accreditation is by means of a process of assessment and adjudication by the Panel. The Panel reserves the right to request that an applicant attend an interview. 

11. Any guideline or regulation may be relaxed or waived in exceptional circumstances on application by the Accreditation Panel to the Education and Training (Policy) Committee whose decision shall be final.

12. Applicants should give particulars of two referees.

Applicants should submit the 2 Reference forms direct to their chosen referees inviting them to complete the forms and return them direct to the Society marked for the attention of Tricia Wilson, Education, Training and Qualifications team.  Referees should note that they may be called upon to give further information.  The independence and professional standing of the referees will be taken into account.

Family Law Mediation Panel members are not permitted to give references.

13. All submitted information will be treated in the strictest of confidence by the Accreditation Panel.

14. The Society has an Equality and Diversity Strategy that covers all elements of its work, including the requirements around Specialisation. If you need any adjustments made to the standard procedure then please contact Patricia Wilson in the Education, Training and Qualifications team  to discuss options.

15. The Society recommends that you create a file and put notes of relevant material over the next 3 years into it to assist with your application for renewal of your accreditation.

16. The Society recommends that you put a reminder in your diary a minimum of 3 months before expiry of your accreditation to remind you to re-apply in good time.