News & Insights

What is arbitration and is it right for my case?

Hannah Sims, an Associate in our Family team, looks at one of the alternatives to Court for resolving disputes

With lengthy Court delays and a heavily underfunded family Justice system, many are looking to alternative options in terms of resolving their matrimonial finances and child arrangements. One such method, which is becoming ever more popular, is arbitration.

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution method in the private sector, where parties enter into an agreement to be bound by the decision of a suitably qualified person (usually a barrister) to resolve their dispute.

The arbitration takes place outside of the Court arena, usually in solicitor’s offices or a barrister’s chambers, and has many benefits. Some of these benefits are outlined below:

Benefits of arbitration

  1. You can choose your arbitrator – the parties to a dispute should agree the arbitrator and jointly instruct the same. This means that you can identify someone with a particular expertise in your area of dispute.
  2. Focus – often, in the family Courts, Judges have several different cases to deal with in a day, and therefore limited time to read into the background of a case. However, an arbitrator should only have one matter to deal with on a given day, meaning that there is more time available for reading into all the papers and really getting to grips with the case. This can mean that there is a more reasoned and considered outcome.
  3. Timeframe – the family Courts are still working hard to reduce listing times following the impact of Covid-19. Despite best efforts, there is still a long wait to get a Court date, which can make it difficult for parties to have closure and move on. Arbitration can be arranged in a matter of weeks, meaning that a decision will be reached a lot sooner than within the Court system.

In the usual way, it is possible to appeal a decision made in arbitration, if there is a real prospect in proving that it was wrong, and so there are safeguards to make sure the law is being correctly applied even outside of Court.

It is important to discuss with your solicitor whether arbitration might be a good option for you. Please contact a member of the Family team here at Field Seymour Parkes for more information.