New President calls for mediation training for district judges

District Judge Monty Trent, the new President of the Association of District Judges, has called for district judges to be trained in mediation and expressed concern about the “dilapidated” state of county court buildings.

 “It is high time for mediation and other alternative dispute resolution techniques to be part of the armoury of every civil court in higher value cases,” he said. “Instead of private or court-annexed mediation, district judges should be trained as mediators and employ their skills in achieving settlements.”

District Judge Trent, who sits at the Mayor’s and City of London Court and was formerly based at West London and Barnet County Courts, has been a full-time judge for 18 years. Curbs on justice expenditure, dilapidated courts and heavy staff turnover meant the system was “beginning to creak alarmingly”, he warned, with regular complaints of delays, mistakes and missing files.

He intends to press for legislation to make civil enforcement machinery more effective.  Describing current systems of enforcement as a “mess”, he said: “One of the great weaknesses of the court system is its failure effectively to enforce its own court orders.”  District Judge Paul Mildred, who sits at Bournemouth Combined Court Centre, has been elected senior vice-president, and District Judge Richard Chapman, who sits at Telford County Court, is the new junior vice-president.