As family lawyers we do appreciate that many parties are concerned about the potential of having to apply to Court where they may feel that is the only real option to them if they are in conflict with the other party (and this can apply to all cases including where parties are married, were former co-habitees and civil partners).
Alongside mediation and collaborative law, another option for the parties to consider instead of Court, is that of arbitration. An Arbiter has to be appointed by both parties and the matter would be considered in private. The Arbiter would be asked to make a decision/award (therefore similar to being placed in the same position of a Judge) which would be binding on the parties. Arbitration has become more common and is often used where there is one particular issue is in dispute, for example, it could be by reference to a financial matter (say the amount of a pension to be shared).
One of the reasons why arbitration has perhaps been less popular is that until a recent case, it was not possible to appeal a decision/award made by an Arbiter. In the same way that if a judge makes an order, in certain circumstances, that Judgement/Order can be appealed, arbitration did not have the option of an appeal if, for example, that Arbiter had made, for example, an error or the decision was considered to be wrong in law. As such, arbitration did not allow that to occur and arguably may well have put parties off using that process.
In the case of Mr and Mrs Hayley, the Court of Appeal has stated that a family judge can substitute its own order if that Judge has decided that the Arbiter’s award was wrong. This judgement is important because it should hopefully encourage parties to consider using the arbitration process knowing that, if the outcome appears uncertain or is wrong it can therefore be challenged/appealed.
For further information relating to the arbitration process or indeed all other processes please contact Paul Wild at the Family Department.
Get in Touch
Paul Wild offers a fixed fee initial meeting of one hour to discuss your personal circumstances, your options and your next steps, at a cost of £95.00 ( inc VAT) , followed by a free letter of advice.
Paul will meet you in our Reading Berkshire office. If you would like to meet with Paul please telephone the office so that an appointment can be arranged.
Paul is a Solicitor specialising in Family Law and is a member of Resolution (formerly The Solicitors Family Law Association) and has trained in and practises both Mediation and Collaborative Law and is a member of Reading Family Mediation (“RFM”) and also the Thames Valley Collaborative POD.