Alternative Dispute Resolution
It is now well recognised that there are distinct advantages to the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (‘ADR’) in Financial Remedy cases.
- Mutually satisfactory outcomes. In most forms of ADR, before an order is finalised, it must be agreed by both parties. This helps to reduce the feeling of winners and losers which is so prevalent in Court directed outcomes.
- More likely to preserve existing relationships. Agreements reached through a mutual commitment to ADR can help preserve and even rebuild trust between separating spouses.
- Reduced stress. Once an agreement is reached in ADR, the stress of further proceedings will be over.
- Flexible to the needs of the parties.
- ADR will be arranged at a time and place convenient to the parties and their legal teams (if involved). On occasions, ADR appointments can be set up at relatively short notice and many months ahead of the Court alternative.
- The hearing day can organised to accommodate the parties’ physical and emotional needs.
- The parties will have the exclusive involvement of the neutral evaluator. This is in sharp contrast to many Court hearings when a number of cases are listed on the same day.
- Different forms of ADR will involve different price structures; enabling some degree of proportionality to the value of the assets in dispute.
- Reduction in costs.
- Particularly if effective ADR is conducted early in the process, both parties will invariably avoid the costs of further expensive litigation.
- Even if an overall settlement is not reached, ADR can lead to an agreement on discrete issues which reduces the costs of pursuing them later in the litigation.
The most common forms of ADR are:
Mediation. The parties present their cases to a neutral evaluator who encourages them to move by agreement towards a mutually acceptable resolution. In mediation, the evaluator will not make decisions on issues in dispute and impose them on the parties.
Early Neutral Evaluation. As the name suggests, these are meetings organised early in the process, almost invariably prior to the parties issuing an application for financial remedy. The evaluator is tasked with making a neutral assessment of the parties’ cases; identifying their strengths and weaknesses. This assessment is designed to encourage the parties to make concessions and reach a suitable compromise based on the evaluation.
Private FDR. This process is designed to replicate the Judge-led FDR process in Court. The neutral evaluator will usually be presented with the case in an advanced stage of preparation; optimising a reliable assessment the likely outcome at Trial. The evaluator will identify the strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ positions and provide a view on the likely spectrum of outcomes if the case were to go to Trial. Visit our dedicated Private FDR page.
Arbitration. These hearings are conducted by professionally qualified arbitrators of which 3PB have a number. The parties present their cases to the Arbitrator who reaches conclusions on the evidence and directs an award. It is a specific requirement of the process that the parties agree to be bound by the arbitrator’s award.
3PB’s Family Group has developed a specific team of neutral evaluators; barristers able to conduct a variety of ADR hearings. Members of the team are available for in-person dispute resolution, remote meetings or a hybrid of the two. In particular, since 2020 Chambers has been running a private virtual FDR service through its exclusive Remote Access Family Court Room (RAFCOR) platform. If deemed appropriate by the parties, evaluations can also be carried out on paper without attendance of the parties.
In addition, 3PB has barristers specifically accredited as collaborative lawyers. The collaborative process facilitates agreement between the parties by discussion rather than Court attendance. Both parties are assisted in the process by a collaborative lawyer and agreement is approached through a series of in-person meetings. The process is designed to be open and honest; allowing a separating couple to resolve their differences with the support of their lawyers.
3PB’s broad geographic reach means that we have a number of centres in the South of England and the Midlands able to host comfortably any ADR event. Alternatively, our neutral evaluators are happy to travel nationally as directed.
We are particularly keen to develop the involvement of ADR in cases at all levels of value. We have neutral evaluators at all levels of seniority. Chambers hopes to encourage parties with more modest assets to take up the process and avoid spiralling costs.
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