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12.98The sub-committee considered whether a Working Party to establish a pilot project for court annexed family mediation should be created.  Such a Working Party should have relevant interested parties represented, including the Law Society, the Bar Association, the Director of Administration, the Legal Aid Department, the Legal Policy Division of the Department of Justice, the Judiciary, the Social Welfare Department, the Health and Welfare Bureau, the Home Affairs Bureau, the Mediation Group, and community mediation service providers.  Its objectives would be to plan and implement a structure for a court annexed family mediation scheme for the resolution of divorce and child custody disputes which would best reflect the needs of Hong Kong.  

12.99We also recommend that the Working Party should look closely at the special needs of children, and how best to protect them in mediation and in the Family Court.  This also has implications for what type of Family Court would best balance the needs of the litigants, their children, the Judiciary and the court administration.  The sub-committee decided to recommend that a Working Party be established to plan and implement a pilot project for court annexed family mediation.

Pilot project for court-annexed family mediation scheme

12.100When we refer to a pilot project, we envisage an experimental undertaking of limited scope and duration prior to the implementation of a full-scale scheme.  The English White Paper proposed the establishment of a pilot project before implementation of the reforms:

“The pilot will focus on ... the extent to which couples seek to save their marriage; the information-giving session; the use of an “informational” video, uptake of mediation and the number of mediators likely to be needed; the organisation of and quality assurance procedures for the delivery of mediation services; the use of lawyers, and their educational and training needs and the allocation of legal aid.”1241

12.101The English Law Society proposed that a pilot project should be carried out before the introduction of legislation “to ensure that the lessons learned can be taken into account in drafting the legislation”.1242  This would cost and test the new proposals and address any deficiencies.1243

12.102We recommend that mediation should be an integral part of the Family Court system.  With a view to establishing mediation as a permanent method of dispute resolution, we recommend that a pilot project on court annexed family mediation be launched at the Family Court.

Pilot Scheme Working Group

1241 Brown and Jones: “Looking to the Future; a summary”, [1995] Family Law 286, 289.

1242 Fairness for Families The Law Society’s response to the White Paper, August 1995.

1243 Ibid at paragraph 4.24.

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