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Family Law Arbitration

Arbitration offers an alternative to the court process.

Family Law Arbitration is an entirely new process for resolving disputes on relationship breakdown. Arbitration has been a familiar process in Commercial or Construction disputes for many years, but there is a growing sense that the ‘time is right’ within family law for this new form of dispute resolution. Currently there are fewer than 40 members on the IFLA panel across the country, including retired High Court Judges, QCs and other Senior Barristers and a few of the leading Family Law Solicitors.

The IFLA scheme covers all financial and property disputes arising out of relationship breakdown. These will include:

  • Financial matters arising from marriage or relationship breakdown.
  • Claims against another person’s estate (under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants Act 1975).
  • Financial claims arising on the ending of a relationship where there are children (under schedule 1 Children Act 1989).
  • Disputes over the ownership of land (under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 – TOLATA).

Arbitration offers an alternative to the court process. The court system is under pressure. Delays are becoming endemic, papers are mislaid and Judges can seem pre-occupied by cases involving people representing themselves without lawyers and frequently have not seen the papers in advance. Arbitration offers a fair resolution of disputes by an impartial tribunal applying English law.

  • The IFLA scheme offers people the chance to:
  • Choose their arbitrator;
  • Choose where and when their case is heard;
  • Restrict the Arbitration to agreed areas; and
  • Achieve a binding decision made within a relatively short timeframe.

Arbitration is likely to become a popular route for clients who seek total confidentiality. It offers great scope for those who want to fit the arbitration in with their life and work, rather than accommodating the court process. It will become a route for those who have failed to reach agreement and are faced with a long wait before a court hearing can be found.

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