Family Law Arbitration – An Alternative to Court
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a well-known and frequently used option for lawyers resolving commercial disputes, avoiding the expense and uncertainty of Court proceedings.
However, it is a relatively new approach for family lawyers, having been launched around 18 months ago by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA). The scheme covers a number of disputes, including financial disputes on divorce; disputes about ownership of property between cohabiting couples and civil partnership financial claims. It does not currently cover disputes in relation to children matters.
Both parties must agree to arbitrate their dispute and sign a document appointing an arbitrator or asking the IFLA to appoint an arbitrator to adjudicate the dispute. This is then determined either on paper only or following a hearing. The arbitrator will make a decision which will be final and binding.
Who are Arbitrators?
They are experienced family lawyers who have undergone rigorous training requirements and assessment and have an in-depth knowledge of family law.
The process is flexible, confidential and enables the parties to have control over the process. It is efficient and cost effective. The parties can choose their arbitrator and there is no Court-imposed timetable. Take up of the IFLA’s scheme has been slow. This is partly because of lack of knowledge / understanding by solicitors and their Clients. It is anticipated that arbitration will become more popular. In a recently published case involving a complex land trust dispute, High Court Judge, Mr Justice Mostyn promoted the benefits of arbitration in this ‘much-to-be-welcomed scheme’.
Time will tell as to whether this alternative scheme will take off but this option is one to be considered for those seeking to resolve matters without Court proceedings.
For more information contact Liz Hebden on 01756 700200 or [email protected]