What is Arbitration?
In an ideal world, separating couples are able to reach an agreement. However, in some cases, this is not possible and a third party needs to be asked to make a decision.
Traditionally, the only route to this was through the courts, with a Judge making a decision after a final hearing/trial. The process is governed by court rules and there is little scope for speeding up or tailoring the process where this would benefit the parties. The process generally requires three separate hearings, including the trial, which can take 12-18 months and is obviously very costly.
More recently, an alternative and private route has developed, called arbitration. Several family solicitors and barristers/QCs have trained in order to be able to arbitrate (decide) a case. There is a formal framework for the process, which means that the decision is binding upon the parties and can then be converted into a court order. There are limited grounds for appealing and these largely replicate those in the court process.
The Benefits of Arbitration
Arbitration is entirely voluntary, so can only done by agreement. There are huge benefits to it:
- The parties can choose the arbitrator, ensuring that he or she has the necessary expertise to deal with the case. If the parties cannot agree, the Institute of Arbitrators can appoint a suitable arbitrator.
- The parties, with the arbitrator, can formulate their own process. Although this will often be similar to the court process, it can be simplified and accelerated where possible.
- The arbitrator will only have one case to deal with and will usually make themselves available for much longer than the usual court day. They will make time to read all of the necessary paperwork ahead of the hearing. This will often shorten the time in front of the arbitrator, which can reduce the cost of representation.
- Arbitration is an entirely confidential process, with no possibility of press attendance.
An arbitrator must be paid by the parties – usually shared equally – but the cost savings in speeding up the process and avoiding unnecessary steps can often offset this.
We will discuss this and other options with you where appropriate, having reviewed your situation.
Alterntives to Arbitration
We offer several other alternatives to court litigation, including mediation, collaborative law and and early neutral evaluation, providing you the opportuity to deal with matters without the need to attend court. We are also experienced in using other methods to resolve disputes, such as round table meetings and private financial dispute resolution hearings (FDRs). All of our solicitors are members of Resolution and committed to its ethos of adopting a constructive approach to resolving family disputes.
Our Family Law team can advise on arbitration so please get in touch if you would like to find out more.