What are the key benefits and costs of arbitration in divorce?

14 February 2020 | Written by Jones Myers

Arbitration – a private court designed to resolve financial issues between separating couples – is taking off in the UK.

Avoiding a prolonged, expensive and public hearing in court, the process – in which an Arbitrator decides the outcome of divorce settlements – is becoming the preferred option for expediting a resolution.

Jones Myers founder, Peter Jones – a former Deputy District Judge and qualified Family Law Arbitrator – is being called on to arbitrate on an increasing number of cases including financial and property disputes and the break-up of civil partnerships or disputes between cohabitating couples whose relationships have ended.

Following some of the most frequently asked questions our clients ask us on arbitration, we share  more questions courtesy of the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators of which Peter is a member.     

What are the benefits of family arbitration?

Speed:  The timetable is up to the parties to agree – avoiding the risk of a case being adjourned or not finished because of pressure on court time or a judge becoming unavailable. Arbitration is likely to take significantly less time than court proceedings.

Confidentiality: The entire process is protected by strict confidentiality

Costs: The parties have to pay for the arbitrator’s fees, any venue hired, and transcription service, if required. The ability to limit disclosure and the scope of the dispute, if properly utilised by the parties, should in many cases lead to a cost saving, since the parties can agree to slim their case down and concentrate on the essential points to be decided.

Flexibility: The parties and the arbitrator have considerable discretion over the procedures they adopt in order to reach a fair result. The parties define the scope of their arbitration. In many cases they will want all their differences arbitrated. Alternatively, arbitration may be limited to agreed issues.

Is arbitration possible even if we are currently involved in court proceedings?

Yes all family court judges are aware of the benefits of arbitration. Recent changes to court rules give judges the power to halt court proceedings to give the parties the opportunity to resolve the dispute through arbitration.

How much does arbitration cost?

The arbitrator and the parties set the level of the arbitrator’s fees by agreement at the outset of the arbitration.

There are also legal or other costs of the parties incurred by a party in engaging lawyers to prepare for and represent them in arbitration, as well as the costs of hiring a venue for a hearing. Each party usually pays their own legal costs, without makong any payment otwards the other party’s legal costs. Venue and similar costs will usually be shared equally.

However the arbitrator has discretion under the Rules to order a party to pay part or all of the legal or other costs of another party if that is appropriate because of the conduct of that party in relation to the arbitration.

For information on arbitration call Jones Myers at Leeds on 0113 246 0055, Harrogate on 01423 276104, or York on 01904 202550 or visit www.jonesmyers.co.uk, email info@jonesmyers.co.uk or tweet us @helpwithdivorce

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