Kingston University has set up what is believed to be the first ever mediation unit at a UK higher education institution.
The new centre will give law students the opportunity to mediate disputes involving people in the local area free of charge.
Senior lecturer Dr Steven Truxal (pictured above) said: “Our hope is that the project will have a strong educational emphasis by offering training to enhance students’ legal skills, as well as building relations with Kingston’s wider community by offering university services on a pro bono basis.”
Following mediation workshops held earlier this year, eight law students have now been trained in specific skills to enable them to conduct sessions at the unit.
Each mediation meeting will be supervised by one of three members of university staff who are each accredited mediators.
To date, the mediation centre’s clients include people who are in disputes with local authorities, the Police and the NHS. It is hoped the mediation unit will extend its remit to commercial disputes in the future.
“The great thing about mediation is that it allows the parties themselves to come up with their own solution,” said principal lecturer Pamela Sellman. “The mediation process it more time efficient and cost effective than other forms of dispute resolution such as litigation and arbitration,” she added.