Dispute Resolution in Refugee Family Reunion Law. Could Mediation Provide a More Therapeutic Solution?

James Marson, Katy Ferris


Refugee family reunion is a mechanism whereby refugees residing in a safe host-country may apply to have their families, typically residing abroad, join them to live and restart their lives in safety. This system operates under international and domestic laws which, in relation to the United Kingdom (UK), suffers from frequent tensions between the two. The problems exist due to the nature of immigration laws and the political dimension to expansion of the rights of individuals to enter and live in the UK; the (often) limited cultural, linguistic and technological skills of the applicant; and the practical system of applying for family reunion which exposes the applicant to a Byzantine procedural and legal process. In sum, this is a particularly anti-therapeutic mechanism to provide an individual with their most basic human right – the right to a family life.


This paper uses therapeutic jurisprudence as a philosophic approach considering the emotional effects of the law. It explores how a more humanitarian direction to judicial decision-making and the administration of justice, or alternatively the use of mediation as a dispute resolution technique, may provide tangible benefits to applicants and their refugee sponsor accessing the legal system in England and Wales.

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