Arbitration is a new process for resolving all types of financial disputes in family cases. It is flexible, confidential and can save time and cost and so can be the best choice for some situations.
You and your partner appoint a specialist family arbitrator to settle the issues between you. Arbitration is a voluntary process (no-one can be compelled to adopt this process) but once it has started, it will deliver an outcome that is intended and expressed to bind you both.
Rather than focusing on helping you and your partner to reach agreement, the arbitrator will impose an outcome on both of you. If you doubt your former partner's ability to reach a sensible agreement it can be reassuring to know that you will exit the arbitration process with a decision which provides finality. Whatever the advantages of alternative dispute resolution models there will always be a proportion of cases where, for whatever reason, agreement simply cannot be reached. It is in relation to these cases that arbitration can provide the best forum to finalise issues between you.
Arbitration can have many advantages over more traditional court focused methods of dispute resolution. The flexible nature of arbitration can make it a quicker, cheaper and less formal process than the traditional court process. You do not have to wait for several months for court dates and are not stuck with the time that the court allocates for the hearing. Arbitration is a private and confidential process. It is not open to the public or press. This makes it particularly suitable for resolving sensitive or highly confidential matters.The arbitrator decides only the issues that you agree need to be resolved and will decide the procedures to settle those issues fairly and to avoid unnecessary delay or expense. You can be represented at the arbitration meetings (by a solicitor or a barrister) but the process does not require this and you may decide to represent yourself.
Unlike the court imposed timetable, the timing of an arbitration can be tailored to suit your requirements. And, (barring the unforeseen), unlike the court process, you will have the same arbitrator for all hearings. This means that the process can move forward in a more focused and, therefore, more economic way.
Family arbitration is currently available to resolve financial issues regarding relationship breakdown whether the parties were married, had a civil partnership or were never married. Whilst arbitration will also cover financial issues regarding children, at present the scheme does not cover other child related issues eg. residence or contact.
Partners James Pirrie and Bradley Williams are both qualified family arbitrators and members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. They are both happy to discuss (without obligation) whether arbitration might be suitable for a particular case and, if so, what fee arrangements might be appropriate.
We are participating in a short term introductory offer of the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators whereby our family arbitrators will take on appropriate arbitration cases for a maximum fee of £1,500 (plus any disbursements).