Solicitor Rebecca Ledgerwood, in our leading Family law team, explains Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) Hearings.
If one spouse issues an application for a Financial Remedy Order then the parties embark on a three hearing process for the Court. The Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearing is the second hearing; it comes after the First Appointment and before the Final Hearing.
By the time the FDR hearing comes around both parties should have complied with their obligations to complete full and frank disclosure enabling all assets/liabilities to have been identified and a value attributed.
The FDR hearing is not a conventional hearing. The hearing is aimed at assisting the parties reach an agreed settlement. FDRs are “without prejudice” to either parties’ positions at a Final Hearing. This means that if one spouse puts forward an offer for settlement but it is not accepted by the other side, it cannot be referred to at the Final Hearing. The judge who hears the FDR can no longer be involved in the case. They will not be the judge at any future hearings.
It is not unusual for much of the day to be spent in a conference room or waiting area of the court building engaging in negotiations. All parties will go before the judge to receive a judicial indication. The judge will hear short submissions from both parties/ their legal representatives setting out their proposal for settlement. The judge will then provide their judicial indication as to what they consider the Court would most likely order at a Final Hearing.
It is important to understand that the judge will not be hearing any evidence from either party, only submissions, and will therefore not make any findings either for or against a party. Indications are usually broad brush in their approach and provide the parties with a “range” for settlement. They can also offer assistance in explaining the structure of any settlement offer.
Once the judicial indication has been received, the parties and their legal advisors will have time to reflect on the same and, if appropriate, continue negotiations to see if settlement can be reached. Settlement will only be reached if both parties agree. If the parties cannot reach an agreed settlement the matter will be set down for a Final Hearing.
In our experience, it is not unusual for cases to settle on the day of or shortly after the FDR hearing so it can often be a useful stage in the Court process.
If you require any further information about this or any other aspect of the Court process, our Family law team can help.
For further information or legal advice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0118 951 6800.
This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.