In a recent judgment, the Court of Appeal gave a very strong endorsement to the use of mediation at an early stage in a case, particularly where the costs are at risk of being disproportionate to the amount in dispute (Egan v Motor Services (Bath) Ltd  EWCA Civ 1002). Lord Justice Ward, who gave the judgment of the court, made the strongly worded comments in a case in which the amount in dispute was only £6,000 but the parties between them spent in the region of £100,000 on the litigation, including the appeal. He said he regarded the parties as "completely cuckoo" to have engaged in such expensive litigation with so little at stake. In his support of mediation, he said:
"...And what benefit can mediation bring? It brings an air of reality to negotiations... Mediation can do more for the parties than negotiation. In this case the sheer commercial folly could have been amply demonstrated to both parties sitting at the same table but hearing it come from somebody who is independent... The cost of such a mediation would be paltry by comparison with the costs that would mount from the moment of the issue of the claim. In so many cases, and this is just another example of one, the best time to mediate is before the litigation begins. It is not a sign of weakness to suggest it. It is the hallmark of commonsense. Mediation is a perfectly proper adjunct to litigation. The skills are now well developed. The results are astonishingly good. Try it more often."