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Arbitration Advice and Representation
JMW can help you if you are considering resolving a family dispute via arbitration or are already engaged in the arbitration process. Although it is possible to engage in arbitration in person, it is highly recommended that parties to arbitration are legally represented to ensure their best interests are met.
For an informal discussion with one of our expert arbitration solicitors, get in touch today. Simply call us on 0800 652 5577 or complete our online enquiry form to arrange a call back at a convenient time.
Arbitration is a form of non-court dispute resolution in which the parties to a legal dispute agree that instead of being decided by the courts, the issues between them will be resolved by an arbitrator. That arbitrator can make legally binding awards and determinations that will, in virtually all cases, be upheld by the courts.
Although it is not right for everyone, arbitration can offer those involved in family disputes more control over the process and a potentially faster outcome than they would get were the dispute to be decided by the court.
Who will be my arbitrator and what kind of experience will they have?
Unlike traditional court proceedings where your case is assigned to a particular judge, the parties can choose an arbitrator from the IFLA (Institute of Family Law Arbitrators) Panel. Provided the panel member agrees to the appointment, they will stick with the arbitrator until the case is concluded. This allows parties to select an arbitrator on the basis of their qualifications, experience and approach. Alternatively, the parties can ask IFLA to appoint a panel member for them.
For their award or determination to be legally recognised, the arbitrator has to be a member of the IFLA panel. Panel members include senior solicitors, barristers, QCs and retired judges with substantial experience of family law. They have to undergo training and accreditation in order to become a panel member.
My husband and I would like our dispute to be decided in accordance with Islamic law. Is this possible?
The family law arbitration scheme can only resolve disputes in accordance with the secular law of England and Wales. They cannot apply religious principles or the laws of another country.
Nevertheless, parties can choose to have certain disputes heard by religious bodies such as a Sharia Council or Beth Din. Whilst their decisions will not have the same legal force as an arbitration award or determination, they could prove to be one important factor if the dispute were subsequently to be considered by a secular court.
Is arbitration confidential?
Yes. Unlike court hearings at which members of the media may be present unless excluded by the judge, arbitration takes place in private. That said, the courts take considerable measures to protect the privacy of children and vulnerable individuals.
Who pays the arbitrator's costs?
In the normal course of events - as with conventional proceedings - each party will pay their own costs and any joint costs (e.g. experts' fees) will be met equally. The same is true of the arbitrator's fees. It is of course open to the parties to agree a different allocation of legal costs, such as a scenario where a better off party pays some if not all of the other party's costs, including the arbitrator's fees.
However, where a party has 'misbehaved' within the arbitration, the arbitrator can make a costs award against them. This would include cases where a party has been persistently late or obstructive with producing documents.
My former partner and I have agreed most of the financial details arising from our separation but we are stuck on one particular issue. Can we ask an arbitrator to decide that issue alone?
Yes. One of the advantages of arbitration is that the parties can tailor-make their process, with the arbitrator's agreement. This includes a request that only a discrete issue be determined.
JMW's family team is on hand to advise you in relation to all family matters, including those that may be suitable for arbitration. We always do all we can for our clients in order to achieve the very best results. We are approachable and understanding, but take a no-nonsense approach to make sure things get sorted properly and efficiently.