Hughes Fowler Carruthers


All the partners in Hughes Fowler Carruthers are well placed to advise on the merits of arbitration in each case.

Arbitration is the newest form of dispute resolution to be introduced in divorce and family law in England and Wales. It is governed here by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (the IFLA).

The parties enter into an agreement under which they appoint a professionally qualified arbitrator to resolve a dispute and make an award. At present, arbitration in England is only possible for financial cases, and not children cases.

The great benefit of arbitration is that parties can choose the manner in which their financial dispute can be resolved, and this can happen far more quickly than through court proceedings. Once appointed, an arbitrator will make directions as to how the case proceeds, provide a clear timetable and fix a date for any arbitration hearing.

Privacy is the other key benefit of arbitration. Although family proceedings are held in private, the media have an absolute right to attend most financial court hearings. The law is unclear as to what the media are entitled to report. Moreover there is a drive by some judges for greater “transparency” meaning that some judges require hearings to be in open court – this can lead to unwanted media attention.

At the arbitration hearing, the arbitrator makes an award regarding division of assets and spouse and child maintenance, which will be binding on the parties. The court will uphold an arbitrator’s award except in limited circumstances.

All the partners in Hughes Fowler Carruthers are well placed to advise on the merits of arbitration in each case, and Mark Harper is a qualified arbitrator.


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