Arbitration - Good Divorce Week 2022
With the family court in crisis, as part of Resolution’s Good Divorce Week, we are keen to raise awareness of the different options available to families to reduce conflict, delay and costs.
Today we will be considering Family Arbitration.
Arbitration is a means of formal dispute resolution. The family scheme was developed to enable separating couples to resolve disputes more quickly and cheaply; in a flexible and less formal setting than a Court room.
Separating couples enter into an agreement under which they will appoint a qualified family law arbitrator to adjudicate their dispute. The decision of the arbitrator is binding, providing certainty of outcome.
Arbitration allows you to control who will make the decisions that affect your finances and family, their level of involvement and when and where your private meetings will take place.
Why Does it Work?
Most people want to settle their differences as efficiently, fairly and cost effectively as possible enabling them to move forward with their lives. Arbitration helps to achieve those goals.
Parties will choose their agreed arbitrator, who will be involved throughout. The powers of an arbitrator are wide ranging and they are likely to have more personal involvement your case.
Arbitration gives you autonomy and flexibility. Your Arbitration Agreement will define whether all matters or discrete issues are to be resolved and you will discuss and agree with the arbitrator how your case will proceed.
From start to finish the arbitration process is likely to take less time than contested court proceedings and the timetable can be more easily tailored to meet your needs and other commitments.
Confidentiality is assured and a final, binding outcome is guaranteed.
Who is it for?
Arbitration is flexible and wide ranging. An arbitrator can address a spectrum of issues arising from the breakdown of family relationships, to include financial issues and child arrangements.
Arbitration is particularly appealing in high profile cases, to ensure the media cannot report on the dispute, discussions or the outcome.
As specialist family solicitors we regularly represent clients during all forms of family arbitration. Head of the Family Team, Fiona Apthorpe is also a qualified financial family law arbitrator and an experienced Deputy District Judge. She sits as a private arbitrator making awards in relation to:
• Financial disputes arising from divorce
• Claims for financial provision for children between unmarried parents
• Civil partnership financial claims
How does it work?
You must both agree that arbitration is the appropriate way forward. You will then complete and sign an Agreement to Arbitrate which binds you both to arbitrate and also to accept the arbitration rules. You will also be agreeing to be bound by the arbitrator’s decision.
You will determine the scope of the arbitration and, together with your chosen arbitrator, the procedure you wish to follow (which may be way of paper determination, hearings or a combination of both).
Once the arbitrator’s decision has been made, you would usually apply to the Court for an order confirming the terms of the award.
An arbitration award does not oust the jurisdiction of the Court. The Court retains the power to ratify the arbitration award, so the award still needs to fall within the parameters of the Court’s power.
Arbitration can be offered in person or remotely.
What happens if agreement is not reached?
The arbitrator’s decision will be final and binding upon you both; providing certainty of outcome.
There are extremely limited grounds of appeal.
Do I need a solicitor?
Both of you will instruct your own lawyers who will:
• explain how the arbitration process works
• assist with the selection of an arbitrator
• determine the issues in dispute and consider the most appropriate procedure
• advise either outside of the arbitration process or act as your representative throughout the arbitration.
Our Arbitration Specialists
How to find out more?
If you are keen to find out more, please feel free to contact Fiona or a member of the family team below.