Trinity Family Barristers' Remote Alternative Dispute Resolution Support
In response to the impact of COVID-19, barristers from Trinity's Family and Matrimonial Finance team and Clerks have worked with instructing solicitors to develop a range of remotely accessible Alternative Dispute Resolution options and support.
Commenting on the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators(IFLA) webinar held on 27th April 2020 entitled “Family Arbitration - Past Present and Future in the New Normal”, where family arbitration was seen as a pragmatic way of dealing with inevitable court delays caused by the pandemic, Trinity barrister, IFLA accredited Arbitrator and sitting Deputy District Judge, Timothy Spain said:
"To the credit of the judges and the staff of HMCTS, the Family Court has continued to conduct hearings remotely during the pandemic. There are however, severe limitations as certain types of hearing do not lend themselves to such a form and fairness dictates that there should be an "attended hearing" with live evidence given to the court. When the lockdown is lifted, the courts will have to address the accumulated backlog of cases, together with those which have arisen during the lockdown as well as the new cases which will inevitably arise. The early planning undertaken indicates that the courts will give priority to:
(a) Domestic abuse cases
(b) Public law children cases
(c) Private law children cases with serious safeguarding issues identified
Financial remedy applications and private law children cases which do not have serious safeguarding issues will be forced to await judicial time. It will be very surprising if the court system will afford time and judicial resources for final hearings, even in existing cases, let alone cases being issued, for many months."
As an alternative and to overcome this challenge enabling clients and their legal advisers achieve certainty, Trinity's Family Team, headed by Nicholas Stonor Q.C. consisting of a substantial number of experienced practitioners, including Recorders and 4 Deputy District Judges who have financial remedy tickets, can provide a comprehensive range of services to our solicitors and lay clients as follows:
Early Neutral Evaluations
The hearing of such applications, that is, on paper or by remotely attended appointments, either for one party or for both, prior to issue usually with the voluntary disclosure of the respective parties Forms E.
Financial Dispute Appointments
The hearing of such applications, that is on paper by agreement or by remotely attended appointments, to agree or argue in respect of Directions including questionnaire and Part 25 applications.
Attendance at what would be a remote hearing, preparing Position Statements, agreeing settlement or Directions for a Final Hearing.
We provide a comprehensive service for the hearing of private FDRs, including appropriate remote conferencing facilities.
Court Final Hearings
Attendance at what would be a remote hearing, all necessary preparation and documentation prior to the hearing.
Final hearings by Arbitration
The Group has three members who are family arbitrators and are accredited by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and are Tim Spain, Brian Mather and Kate Wood.
We provide a comprehensive service for remote three room conferences/meetings.
As with financial remedy, we provide a comprehensive service in respect of all manner of private law applications. As well as a substantial number of experienced practitioners, the Group has Recorders and 4 Deputy District Judges who are ticketed to hear private law applications, together with one family arbitrator accredited by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators, namely Tim Spain, and as such we can offer a comprehensive service relating to all forms of hearings together with arbitration final hearings.
Note on Private FDRs
In order for these hearings to be effective, the following must be agreed:
1. The parties approach such a hearing with a view to effecting a final settlement which is fair and reasonable to both parties and is inclusive of all financial claims of either party of whatsoever nature. It will have been explained to the lay clients in advance of the ‘hearing’ that the outcome will be determinative of all matters whether raised in Forms E or lists of issues, save obviously for matters arising from any deliberate non-disclosure or Barder events.
2. The parties will provide the following:
a. Completed and signed Forms E
b. Questionnaires and Responses
c. An agreed Schedule of assets and valuations, including CEV’s in respect of pensions
d. In the event that a Schedule of assets and valuation cannot be agreed then each party is to provide their own Schedule.
e. An agreed list of issues
f. Where parties are represented, there should be provided a position statement by the representatives and circulated in advance
3. Confirmation that full disclosure has been effected.
4. The parties agree that any agreement reached is binding as from the date of such agreement and will be incorporated into a Consent Order which will be lodged with the Court as soon as possible.
Trinity's Family and Matrimonial Finance barristers and clerking team recognise that some of these solutions may be new to many of our clients and as such we would be more than happy to spend some time discussing the various options available, the process, technical/IT requirements and likely fees.
Please click here to download full details.
Do not hesitate to get in touch with the Family clerking team, who are operating a full service, by email: FamilyClerks@trinitychambers.co.uk or phone: 0191 232 1927.