Dispute resolution

For those parties who wish to find an alternative to the court process.

Mediation

We are able to deal with both Family Law and Civil Law mediation.

Mediation is an option in respect of all types of disputes. Rather than having a number of different applications before the court, being heard at different times and dates, usually all family issues can be dealt with globally within the mediation process.

Both the Government and the Courts are increasingly supportive of mediation, promoting it as a sensible option in all areas of dispute. It is significantly less expensive than litigation and resolution can usually be reached within a much shorter time frame than that currently offered by the courts. Importantly, it enables parties to negotiate their own agreements with the help of a skilled and impartial mediator, who will facilitate communication between the participants and ensure that the process is conducted in a fair and even-handed manner.

Mediation can take place alongside, or instead of, court proceedings. It is a voluntary and confidential process which is conducted in a relatively informal setting and, whilst often challenging for participants, it is generally considered to be less stressful than litigation.

Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) can be offered to explain the process of mediation and assess the suitability of a case for mediation prior to embarking on the court process.

A detailed memorandum can be provided at the conclusion of the mediation process, setting out the proposals for settlement; this can then form the basis of a court order, which will reflect, in a legally enforceable document, the agreement reached in mediation. Parties often find that arrangements considered and made in this way, through mediation, are more enduring and mutually acceptable than those directed by a court.

Family Arbitration

Arbitration is a new service developed in conjunction with the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA) and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb). The ILFA arbitration process has been endorsed by the President of the Family Division in the case of S v S (Financial Remedies: Arbitral Award) [2014] EWHC 7 (Fam) and now the Practice Guidance issued on 23 November 2015 entitled 'Arbitration in the Family Court'.

If both parties agree to arbitrate this creates a binding process under which the arbitrator will determine the issues between the parties. In the vast majority of cases the parties will simply present the arbitral award to the court as a consent order or the court will enforce the award.

Under our Arbitration service:

  • The parties can select an arbitrator with experience and expertise in this area.
  • A suitable venue can be chosen which allows for a more informal process with refreshments and space for private discussions.
  • There is no delay - the process can be started and completed very quickly with no need to wait for court time to be available.
  • The process is fully confidential.
  • There is quick and efficient access to the arbitrator by telephone and email to resolve case management issues as they arise.
  • The process can run in conjunction with Private FDR (although the arbitrator and evaluator will need to be different people) so as to provide a complete financial remedies solution.
  • The service covers financial remedies applications on divorce and also claims under the I(PFD)A 1975 and the TOLATA 1996.

Private FDRs

All financial remedies practitioners will be familiar with the high rate of settlement that can be achieved through the FDR process but settlement is highly dependent on the expertise and experience of the FDR judge and the time available to the judge and parties during the process.

Under our Private FDR / Early Neutral Evaluation service:

  • The parties can select an evaluator with experience and expertise in this area.
  • A suitable venue can be chosen which allows for a more informal process with refreshments and space for private discussions.
  • There is no delay - the Private FDR can be arranged before court proceedings have been started, at any stage of those proceedings or as part of an arbitration process.
  • The evaluator will have read and prepared the case in advance of the meeting.
  • The parties will have a full day to conduct the FDR 'hearing' and then to continue their discussions and negotiations.
  • The evaluator will continue to be available throughout the day to provide further guidance and assistance.
  • If further time is needed on a different day, the parties can elect to continue the Private FDR without being reliant upon court listing.

Arrangements for these services can be made very quickly. For example, if the court has adjourned or vacated a final hearing at short notice agreeing to arbitration will ensure that all preparation work and fees already incurred are put to good use.

For further information or for a fixed fee quotation, please contact our Senior Clerk Marc Goddard.