The President of the Family Division of the High Court of Justice has provided guidance on the relationship between the Family Court and arbitrations.
What is arbitration and are there any advantages?
Arbitration is a form of private alternative dispute resolution in which you and your former partner appoint a fair and impartial expert who is suitably qualified to resolve your dispute, known as an arbitrator. The arbitrator’s decision – which is made in accordance with the law of England and Wales – will be final and binding.
Arbitration can be used to resolve your disputes concerning finances, property and child maintenance. Like family mediation, arbitration is an alternative to the court process. It’s likely to be much quicker than court proceedings and the costs are likely to be much lower. You can also choose the venue, and the date and time of meetings.
It is possible to put court proceedings on hold for different forms of alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration. It is still possible even if the proceedings have already been issued, so long as both parties agree to arbitration taking place.
Can you continue to obtain independent legal advice during the arbitration process?
Yes, you can continue to instruct a family law solicitor to advise you during the arbitration process.
At Slater and Gordon, we offer an initial first-hour appointment at a cost of £170 (plus VAT) for non-principal lawyers and £250 (plus VAT) for principal lawyers. It is always advisable to seek initial advice so that you are fully aware of your legal position and the options available to you.
Everyone’s case differs and it is best to seek advice on your individual circumstances. For example, arbitration is not always suitable. If evidence from third parties is required or there is a risk that your spouse is trying to dispose of assets then arbitration is unlikely to be the best way forward for you.
Trained arbitrator Liz Cowell is one of Slater and Gordon’s family solicitors ready to advise you on the best way to resolve your family dispute. If you want to discuss alternative methods of dispute resolution call us on freephone 0800 916 9055, read our family mediation brochure, or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help.