Private FDR's / Early Neutral Evaluation

9th November 2018 Family Law

In his last President’s Circular dated 27 July 2018, Munby P endorsed the use of Private FDRs and clearly invited the judiciary to encourage their use:

‘7. I hope that the lead and other judges will take the opportunity to develop and encourage the use of ‘private’ FDRs locally. A private FDR is a simple concept. The parties pay for a financial remedy specialist to act as a private FDR judge. No additional qualification is required. The private FDR takes place at a time convenient to the parties, usually in a solicitors’ offices or barrister’ chambers, and a full day is normally set aside to maximise the prospects of settlement. It takes the place of the in-court FDR..

9. Although a private FDR does require some (often quite modest) investment by the parties, this expense can be greatly outweighed by the parties advantages gained. The very fact of investment by the parties will signify a voluntary seat at the negotiating table rather than a sense of being dragged there. The ‘hearing’ can take place at a time convenient to the parties, even in the evening or a weekend, and for as long as the parties want. The private FDR judge will, by definition, have been given all the time needed to prepare fully for the hearing’.

The full text of the Circular fully legitimises the private FDR as a cost effective and highly effective method of resolution in all cases, not just those deemed ‘big money’ or complex. Further, anecdotal evidence from those who conduct them estimate a success rate in excess of 90%.

The clear advantages of a private FDR are as follows:

  • The parties choose the FDR judge;
  • The parties choose the time, venue and duration;
  • The private FDR has proper time and resources applied to it;
  • The parties will get a detailed and helpful indication focussed on the areas that they have invited their private FDR judge to deal with.

JMW is delighted to be able to offer Private FDR’s in all types of financial remedy cases, conducted by our specialist in house Counsel Abigail Bennett. Abigail is well placed to conduct FDR’s having sat as a Deputy District Judge since 2010.

For more information please contact

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Abigail Bennett is a Barrister located in Manchesterin our Family department

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