The family courts are under intense pressure and have suffered significant cuts in recent years.It certainly has been my experience that families are forced to wait several months for a hearing and, believe it or not, are often turned away at the last minute because the court is too busy.
The court’s procedure is ‘one size fits all’ and there is almost no opportunity to tailor each step around the unique circumstances of the family.Sometimes parties are deadlocked on one particular aspect which they can’t resolve but they agree on every other issue.In court, there is no other choice but to complete the entire expensive procedure in order to have just the one aspect decided.
Arbitration is entirely different.Here, parties have the opportunity to choose their arbitrator.Arbitrators can be retired or part time judges, barristers or solicitors who have developed an expertise in a particular area of law, or simply lawyers with a reputation for being fair and thorough.
Parties can also choose where and when the arbitration is to take place, almost guaranteeing that it will be a faster conclusion than traditional court.
Legal costs are a concern for every party; with arbitration parties can tailor the procedure around the issues rather than follow the regular court rules.This will often provide parties with significant savings.
The High Court has recently and explicitly recognised arbitration as a legitimate opportunity for parties to take control of their own fate.In agreeing to allow a suitably qualified arbitrator to make a final decision for them, the parties also agree to be bound by it. Apart from the very narrow grounds for traditional appeal, the family courts will adopt a robust approach to an attempt by either party to resile from the arbitrator’s decision.
If the alternative to arbitration is uncertain court procedure, there is very little downside to the use of arbitration in family law.At The Law House we are determined to, whenever possible, offer fixed fees to our clients so that they have the certainty of knowing their legal fees will not spiral out of control.With arbitration, clients have the added advantage of taking control of how exactly their dispute will be decided which limits uncertainty and allows us to offer a comprehensive fixed fee.
For more information about arbitration or family law in general, please contact Randal Buckley on 020 8899 6620 or at firstname.lastname@example.org