Justice delayed is justice denied is a common refrain of a litigious age. Heavy court caseloads and time-consuming legal process and procedure play their part in delay. What sets Hong Kong apart from some other jurisdictions that suffer from the malaise of drawn-out suits is that it has not kept up in the development of mediation services. Mediation is an alternative to litigation in dispute resolution that can take pressure off the courts, cutting delays and saving costs. It is not that Hong Kong lacks mediation providers, such as universities and professional bodies. But it lacks a common accreditation benchmark to ensure their quality and overseas recognition - important to an international city. Both the chief justice and secretary for justice have in the past called on mediation providers to develop an accreditation benchmark comparable with those set in the United States, Britain and Australia. Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang also called for mediation to be made part of the professional qualification course for lawyers to improve their understanding of the process. The government has taken the lead with an attempt to make more use of mediation services to settle land and injury compensation cases. We are reminded of the value of mediation by yesterday's out-of-court settlement of a damages case brought by a victim of sexual abuse against the Catholic Church and a former priest who served a jail term for sex offences. Settlement was reached by mediation on what was to have been the opening day of a trial set down for 12 days. As is usual in settlements, the judge congratulated the parties. In this case the saving in time the court can devote to other cases, not to mention costs, is considerable. The parties agreed not to reveal the terms. But it is a victory for common sense that brings a measure of closure to pain and suffering and enables them to move on. It is regrettable that it was not reached until the eleventh hour. For this, the judge made a point of blaming the system rather than parties. He is right to point to the role legal professional bodies can play in improving the mediation system. By exhausting possibilities of out-of-court settlements, we can enhance access to justice.