More than 15 years ago family law practitioners started to discuss the possibility of using arbitration to resolve family law disputes. At that time, family law would have most likely have been considered non-arbitrable.
In 2012, IFLA (the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators, which is a collaboration between the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Family Law Bar Association, and the family lawyers’ group Resolution, in association with the Centre for Child and Family Law Reform) launched the Financial Scheme to resolve financial disputes and in 2016 the Children Arbitration Scheme to resolve disputes relation to children.
Driven by concerns that it is becoming increasingly difficult to preserve confidentiality for family law disputes before the courts, the uptake, particularly in relation to the Financial Scheme, has been significant. But this development also comes at the right time. With legal aid cuts having a serious impact on those with lower incomes wishing to resolve family law disputes, arbitration can offer a more cost effective, fixed fee alternative to the courts.
Angeline Welsh explores this development with Suzanne Kingston of Withers LLP, co-author of Family Law Arbitration: Practice and Precedents, 2nd ed, IFLA.
Regarded as ‘a pre-eminent force in Family Law’, Suzanne is very well known as for her expertise in all aspects of family work. In particular, she deals with the resolution of complex financial issues for high net worth individuals. Her cases often have an international element and she has considerable experience in dealing with prenuptial agreements and cohabitation issues. Suzanne is also equally confident representing parents in matters involving children, having handled numerous complex cases, including leave to remove. She is an accredited Resolution mediator and has a thriving mediation practice and is a qualified collaborative lawyer and trains collaborative law for Resolution.
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