Alternatives to court - arbitration

The majority of disputes … are capable of consensual settlement… all cases which can be settled should be settled.

Lord Wilson SCJ
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This ‘private judging’ system can be an attractive alternative to court proceedings where you are unable to reach an agreement and need a third party to rule on outstanding issues.

In cases where both of you want to avoid or limit your participation in the court process, but an independent adjudicator is necessary because you are not able to agree a settlement, arbitration can provide a private, timely and cost-effective way to achieve an outcome that will be binding on you both.  

Arbitration is essentially private judging: a third party arbitrator is chosen by you and your former partner to review your respective arguments and relevant evidence and material before imposing a final decision upon you. 

Arbitration can be used to resolve children and financial issues. It allows you to avoid the court process, or to have particular aspects of your case resolved in private by your private ‘judge’. You will each be represented by your own legal teams including a solicitor and a barrister. You are able to select an experienced lawyer to act as arbitrator and resolve the issues in dispute. Their decision will be binding on you both. Your barrister will present your case to the arbitrator in the same way as they would do if you were in a court setting but you will not experience court delays and you will be able to choose the time and location for the arbitration. The arbitration process is completely private and confidential, which is not always the position with court hearings. 

Before arbitration starts, you will both sign an agreement that you will abide by the arbitrator’s decision. You also agree that after the decision (sometimes referred to as an ‘award’) has been made it will be turned into a court order by consent, making it enforceable in law. Unless there are very unusual circumstances that transpire after the award is made, the court has made it clear that arbitrated awards will be upheld.

Arbitration can also be useful following another process, such as collaborative law or an Early Neutral Evaluation, if a third party decision is required on any limited remaining issues that could not be resolved by agreement. 

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