Some talks are simply about ‘stuff’ – often very interesting stuff. No doubt there will be many talks about the decisions on the purported prorogation of Parliament.

But some talks are calls for action.

Sometimes those calls for action identify a problem but give no tested answer. Nothing wrong with that if there is none. But “Settlement: is the future with the judges?” comes with the answers.

The answers are there for all to see. What is problematic is that, despite such answers, the use of mediation is treated as a panacea instead of as a tool of relatively limited application in the array of those available to help with the amicable settlement of disputes. It is treated as if it were a magical ointment so potent as to obscure the use of those mundane and effective procedures described in my talk.

Central to the talk is the use in the courts of judicial conciliation; a dynamic process in which Judicial Neutral Evaluation (ENE in the talk) plays a central role. Although given prominence in the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Lomax v Lomax  [2019] EWCA Civ 1467; [2019] 1 WLR 6527 this type of approach has already been used in the Family Court in many thousands of Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) appointments as well as in the management of civil cases in Hampshire and Dorset since 1999. As the talk explains, judicial involvement in the settlement of disputes stretches across jurisdictions and addresses needs that, by reason of the number and values involved, mediation cannot satisfy.

The processes examined in the talk result from an evolution that is part of the structure of civil justice in this country. In it we see where we are now and how best to move forward.