Family Law Arbitration

The family team at 3PB is one of the leading sets in progressive non-court dispute resolution within family law. Within our 80-strong team of family barristers, we have five highly-skilled IFLA arbitrators: two of whom (Simon Lillington and Aimee Fox) are qualified to arbitrate in financial remedy and property disputes, and three (Stephen Wildblood KC, Nathalie Bull and Carrie Mason) in private children law disputes.

Our members often serve as ENE specialists and Arbitrators in Private law Children Act matters and Financial remedy matters encompassing, private FDR hearings, family property disputes (TOLATA) and Child related matters.

The 3PB family team is strongly dedicated to helping parties resolve their cases outside the courtroom when appropriate. With a backlog of 110,000 cases in the family courts and six- month delays for first hearings 3PB’s commitment to providing an alternative is unwavering.

3PB views non-court resolution as a better way when used for cases that are suitable, Clients can handpick their Judge and have their undivided attention at a venue and time of their choosing with no danger of late adjournments and lost fees.

Chambers provides dedicated suites across four of our six centres in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Bournemouth, equipped with hearing rooms and private conference/breakout rooms. While these appointments are typically held in chambers, we can accommodate remote sessions for parties located at a distance or internationally. We also offer "special measures" to ensure parties do not come into direct contact with each other, where requested. Our members are flexible and willing to attend appointments at mutually agreed locations across England and Wales, and even beyond, as needed.

Family Law Arbitration - An Operational Overview


The couple initiates the arbitration process by completing and personally signing the ARB1FS (Finances) or ARB1CS (children) form. ARB1 extends an invitation to a Family Arbitration Panel member to resolve their dispute in alignment with the IFLA Rules and The Arbitration Act 1996. Please find the forms here and here.

Arbitrator Selection

The couple can mutually agree to nominate an Arbitrator or alternatively the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators/IFLA will choose a suitable arbitrator on their behalf. Upon signing ARB1, the couple formally commits to inviting an Arbitrator to make a decision (Award) for dispute resolution.

Scope Definition

In ARB1, the couple outlines the specific scope of their dispute intended for arbitration.

Arbitrator Engagement

The nominated or chosen Arbitrator contacts both parties to establish their terms for acting. Once terms are agreed, the Arbitrator formally accepts the appointment, initiating the arbitration process.

Procedural Planning

Through discussions with both parties, the Arbitrator establishes procedural steps, either following bespoke timetables or using the IFLA standard procedure. If needed, experts can be instructed jointly by the parties or by the Arbitrator, with the parties agreeing to cover the expert costs.

Hearing Process

Agreement or Arbitrator decision may lead to a hearing, providing both sides an opportunity to present their case. Agreed matters are incorporated into the Award, and the Arbitrator ensures a fair and impartial process.

The hearing process can be dealt with in two different ways:

  • Paper-Based Arbitration – this involves the production of a written bundle which is reviewed by the arbitrator and a decision returned in writing.
  • In-Person Arbitration – a prepared bundle is reviewed by the arbitrator but is followed up by an oral hearing. The decision is again returned in writing.

Award Presentation

The Arbitrator issues a written Award promptly, covering case details, reasoning, jurisdiction (Seat), and the Award itself. The Award is structured for immediate conversion into a consent order for court submission where and when required.

Binding Nature

The Award is legally binding on the parties, and appeals are limited to specific grounds such as jurisdictional issues or serious procedural irregularities.

Distribution and Implementation

The Arbitrator sends the Award to the parties upon payment of fees. The parties, along with their lawyers, implement the Award, seeking a court order if necessary, especially following financial scheme arbitrations.

If you would like to discuss arbitration and what the 3PB family team can offer please contact Robert Leonard or Ian Charlton who will be happy to help you with the process.

Simon Lillington

Head of Group

Simon Lillington

Telephone: 01202 292 102