solicitors being placed under a duty to give that document to the parties. The Family Mediation Committee of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre has produced a leaflet on family mediation which has been sent to the Family Court. We suggest that the judiciary should endorse this information to encourage the use of mediation, rather than relying on non-governmental organizations to publicise such services.
12.61We recommend that information pamphlets should be available at the Family Court and the family services centres, which should include information on the availability of, and encouragement to use, mediation as an alternative to litigation. Information on mediation services should be included in pamphlets such as the Information Kit on Marriage. The pamphlets and the Information Kit should be periodically updated. The court should be under a duty to actively promote mediation. The Chief Justice should approve a document which sets out the benefits and procedure for mediation.
12.62Information sessions illustrate the range of options for managing disputes and:
“give a more detailed overview of the mediation process. Educational components are also included covering the separation process, communication patterns, children’s reactions to separation in the context of child development, couple suitability for mediation and the range of issues that can be mediated.”1212
12.63Section 8 of the English Family Law Act 1996 makes information meetings compulsory.1213 The court has power to give a direction for parties to attend a meeting to explain the facilities for mediation and to give parties an opportunity to take advantage of mediation.1214 We accept that such a service would be a service for the better protection and best interests of children. It would also assist the increasing number of respondents, in particular, who are not legally represented. We have referred to the research on the impact of marital conflict on children in chapter 1. In chapter 10 we referred to parent education programmes that have become compulsory in some states in the United States. We considered whether there should be a compulsory information session but we decided that this may not yet be acceptable in Hong Kong as it is still a new process.
12.64We recommend the introduction of a voluntary information session, which would be a service open to everyone. It would be attended by the parties before the filing of the petition in the majority of cases. It would encompass elements of the United States parent education programmes and the Australian information sessions.
1212 Gibson, “Mediation of Family Disputes in the Family Court of Australia”, Paper at the Fifth National Family Law Conference, Perth, September 1992.
1213See chapter 8 supra.
1214Section 13 of the English Family Law Act 1996.