Well not actually my holiday but this past weekend. I would have been watching the rugby, walking the dogs, perhaps cooking up a storm. Instead, I spent the weekend in the company of some of the most eminent family lawyers, including 4 silks, a retired High Court Judge, a couple of District Judges, a selection of charming barristers, some pretty impressive solicitors and a Lord.
So what were the likes of Sir Hugh Bennet, Tim Scott QC, Valentine Le Grice QC, David Hodson, James Pirrie, Fiona Read, and Melanie Wilson among others doing in Bloomsbury Square on a sunny autumn weekend?
Twenty of us in all were at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators , becoming the first Family Law Arbitrators in England and Wales and I admit having a rather good dinner and a drink or three.
So what is Arbitration? Why choose Arbitration?
Sometimes with the best will in the world and the finest Resolution Solicitors, Mediators and Collaborative lawyers such as those, you will find at Frances Lindsay & Co, there is not always a deal to be had. Many cases simply cannot settle not because parties are behaving badly or being unreasonable but because there is a difficult judgement call on the valuation or division of particular assets or on the form of order. So what then to do? Do you rush off to court and ask a judge to decide? It’s an option. You will be required to follow a rigid timetable and procedure set by the court. You will have no choice of judge (and you may see several different ones during the course of your case) or venue, no choice of timetable or hearing dates. Judges are appointed from all areas of the law, there is no guarantee that your judge will have any expertise in family law (thankfully that is rarely the case in our local courts). The time allocated for your case may mean that you either do not have enough time or you may have to wait months for a judge to become available and even then if the Judge becomes unavailable through some mishap or emergency hearing or the court does not have room your case may be adjourned to some further distant date.
Arbitration is a better choice. You may have heard about arbitration being used in shipping cases or employment disputes. It has been used for family disputes for years, in the US, Scotland, Australia and finally it is available for family disputes in England and Wales soon to be under the auspices of Resolution. Arbitration is similar to court but only in so far as you will have someone making a decision for you. It has significant advantages though. For example, you can choose your arbitrator, your venue, your timetable, your procedure. Your arbitrator will be an expert in the field. You can choose what issues you want the arbitrator to decide. You will have the same arbitrator throughout your case who will be able to build up a complete picture of your case and who importantly will have had sufficient time to read and understand your papers; you will decide what you need your arbitrator to make a decision on and when. You will decide how much time you need for your case to be heard. It’s confidential (no media allowed) it’s quick , it’s efficient and it’s is binding. In short, it is tailored to your requirements
The Family Law Arbitration Group of Resolution is to be launched in February 2012; in the meantime, I am here for you.