The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Baroness Cox (Crossbench). The Bill received its first reading in the House of Lords on 25 May 2016 and is scheduled to receive its second reading on 27 January 2017. The Bill would seek to make further provision about arbitration and mediation services and the application of equality legislation to such services.
The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill [HL] would make provisions regarding the application of equalities legislation to arbitration and mediation services. It seeks to prevent providers of arbitration services from doing anything that constitutes discrimination, harassment or victimisation on the grounds of sex. It would do so by inserting a new subsection into the Equalities Act 2010 and into the Arbitration Act 1996. It would also provide clarification that discrimination includes, but is not restricted to, treating evidence from men as being of greater value than that of women, or vice versa. The Family Law Act 1996 would also be amended to allow courts to set aside any order based on a mediation settlement agreement, or other negotiation agreement, if the court believes on the basis of evidence that one party’s consent was not genuine. The Bill would also place an obligation on public authorities to inform those who are married according only to certain religious practices, or those in polygamous households, that they may be without legal protection.
Baroness Cox has introduced similar bills in previous sessions. In 2012–13 her private member’s bill of the same name was given a second reading in the House of Lords on 19 October 2012. In 2015–16 a bill of the same name progressed to its first reading in the House of Commons but did not receive a second reading.