Untying the knots…

Jeremy Ferris

Partner & CEDR Accredited Mediator

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December 12, 2023

Categories Dispute Resolution Law Updates

Churchill v Merthyr Tydfil CBC [2023] EWCA Civ 1416

In a judgment handed down on 29 November 2023, the Court of Appeal ruled that courts have the power to order the parties to engage in non-court-based Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes which include mediation. That is so even if one or both parties are unwilling to participate. The judgment has far-reaching implications for civil litigation in England and Wales.

The Background

The case of concerned a claim brought by Mr. Churchill against Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council for damages arising from the encroachment of Japanese knotweed onto his property from land owned by the Council. The Council denied liability and effectively sought to oblige Mr. Churchill to exhaust the council’s internal complaints procedure before further litigation could commence.

The Court of Appeal’s Ruling

The Court of Appeal held that courts have the power to stay proceedings and encourage or even in exceptional cases mandate parties to ADR, even if the parties are unwilling to participate.


The decision integrates mediation into the civil justice system and has significant implications for civil litigation in England and Wales. It empowers the courts to play a far more proactive role in encouraging and even mandating ADR in appropriate cases which is likely to have a lasting impact on the landscape of civil litigation and the conduct of cases potentially leading to a more streamlined and cost-effective approach to resolving disputes.

For advice on civil or commercial mediation contact Partner Jeremy Ferris, dispute resolution specialist and trained mediator on 01227 763939.

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