February 22nd, 2019
There are many ways to resolve family disputes, and court is only one way. The reality is that the court system is an under-resourced public service struggling to cope, and this inevitably has an impact on court users. For those trying to make use of the court system to resolve family disputes, this often adds insult to injury at an already incredibly difficult time. It is not unusual these days for everyone to arrive at court – solicitors, barristers and of course clients – only to be told that there is no judge to hear the case. By which time, of course, much money has been spent which in all likelihood will not be recovered.
So where does a client go when they need a more formal process but do not want to go to court? Arbitration is potentially the answer.
Arbitration is definitely on the increase. Why? Because it is quite similar to court proceedings in many ways but can flex to meet the circumstances of a case. It has wrongly gained a reputation for what lawyers often (patronisingly) call “big money” cases, but has benefits which mean it should be at the very least considered in more cases than it currently is.
So what is it? Well, an arbitrator (like a privately paid judge) is appointed to make a decision – the parties agreeing between themselves precisely what the arbitrator will decide on and when, and how and where it is done. An arbitrator can decide the whole of a case (money or children) or just a small issue in the case. The reality is that parties can get a case arbitrated in less than a month if they want to.
So is it expensive? Well, there is a fee for the arbitrator. It is difficult to analyse whether arbitration is better value than a process such as court proceedings because clearly you never run the same case in two different ways just to compare the cost. However, for the case mentioned above where everyone has arrived at court after months (maybe years) of preparation only for the case not to be heard, would arbitration have been more cost-effective? Quite probably!
Our MD Jo is a trained Arbitrator so is more than happy to chat through the detail should you wish but dont rule out alternatives to Court.
Sarah has joined the team at Hawkins Family Law – a firm described as “exemplary” by the Legal 500 (2015) in May 2018 - as an Assistant Solicitor. Sarah’s route to Family Law is a slightly unusual one in that, for many years, she specialised in business disputes as a commercial litigator before becoming a family solicitor.
Hawkins Family Law fields 'a very professional team that delivers a high-class service and has strength-in-depth from senior to junior level'. Managing director and team head Jo Hawkins provides 'clear and accurate advice and moral support through often testing times for her clients; she focuses on deriving the best long-term outcome for her client and other parties'. The practice has particular strength financial matters, including divorce and ToLATA proceedings. Other key figures include Loraine Davenport, who has strong collaborative law expertise and handles complex children cases and high-net-worth ancillary relief matters; Annabel Hayward, who focuses on complex financial provision and co-habitation matters; and Stacey St Clair.
For more information please click here.
What the team is known for
Boutique family law firm that punches above its weight in terms of high-value and complex matrimonial finance instructions relating to business assets, pensions and substantial property portfolios, including assisting with the handling of assets abroad. Also represents clients in the negotiation of wealth protection agreements and private law childcare arrangements. Fields a team trained in collaborative law and alternative dispute resolution.
An impressed client says: "The team's personal service and individual care is a great asset,"adding that the lawyers are "always available to assist and understand the occasional need for immediate advice and guidance, providing a very reassuring service."
For more information please click here.