Why is MIAM meeting essential in family litigation?
In certain kinds of family proceedings, the Family Court’s rules require the applicant to attend Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before making an application to the Court. The object of the MIAM is that the applicant is made aware of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options instead of the court processes.
Mediation is one of the forms of ADR, which is a confidential negotiation by a third party known as a mediator for resolving a wide range of disputes. Parties to mediation cannot disclose the contents of any discussion or rely on the evidence or the information provided during the mediation. Neither are they supposed to reveal the reasons why they did not reach the settlement. In most family proceedings cases, the Court requires that all applicants attend a MIAM and have complied with this requirement before commencing proceedings unless an exemption applies.
If the applicant issues proceedings without attending the MIAM, the Court might ask the applicant to have a meeting with the mediator for compliance with the rules; unless an exemption applies.
The main objective of the MIAM is to provide the applicant with information about the other options that the applicant has for resolving the dispute.
Is it a requirement for the respondent to attend the MIAM?
The simple answer is no. However, the Court will expect the respondent to attend the MIAM. If the respondent declines to attend MIAM, the applicant can issue the proceedings, and the rules will not prevent the applicant from issuing the proceedings.
What are the MIAM exemptions?
The applicant is not expected to attend a MIAM if either of the following-not exclusive- exceptions applies:
- The applicant previously attended a MIAM or attempted another form of non-court dispute resolution within the previous four months or is currently participating in another form of out of court dispute resolution at the time of making the application; or
- There is an application confirming that a MIAM exemption applies within the previous four months about the same issue or substantially the same dispute; or
- Fresh application in the ongoing proceedings and the applicant has already attended a MIAM; or
- In cases where there are children protection issues involving a local authority; or
- The dispute is related to financial issues, and there is an involvement of a bankruptcy;
- When there is no dispute to mediate and the parties are in agreement, and the order is by consent; or
- There is no information about the respondent whereabouts; or
- In the case where the application can be made without notice to the other party in cases of urgency; or
- There are geographical or any other limitation which makes attendance to MIAM impossible.