The Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA) launched the Family Law Arbitration Financial Scheme (Financial Scheme) on 22 February 2012, to provide arbitration for financial and property disputes in the family law context. In July 2016, the IFLA launched the Family Law Arbitration Children Scheme (Children Scheme) for domestic disputes relating to children.
The firm has extensive experience on advising clients who elect arbitration as the appropriate method to resolve their dispute. Clients who do choose arbitration should be aware that:
- By signing the agreement to arbitrate they are entering into a binding agreement to arbitrate (within the meaning of section 6 of the Arbitration Act 1996).
- After signing, neither party may avoid arbitration (unless they both agree to do so). Either party may rely on the arbitration agreement to seek a stay of court proceedings commenced by the other.
- Arbitration is a process whose outcome is generally final. There are very limited grounds for raising a challenge or appeal, and it is only in exceptional circumstances that a court will exercise its own discretion in substitution for the award.
Arbitration offers a forum in which parties can appoint a qualified person to adjudicate over their dispute, utilising a speedier process, in a private, cost effective, and less formal setting than a court room. This is very attractive to clients who wish to avoid the delays caused by pressure on the court system. Arbitration is attractive to clients who want:
- A process of swift but adjudicated resolution – cases where speed is of the essence.
To avoid press interest and where confidentiality is key.
- To avoid protracted proceedings for variation of maintenance (where costs are renowned for being disproportionate to the sums in dispute).
- To resolve discrete issues that may be holding up the overall resolution of the case and which would otherwise require considerable court time and expense to resolve (with the inevitable delay that this will entail).
- To move forward after a failed Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing (FDR) in the court process.
- To attempt another form of alternative dispute resolution where other forms of dispute resolution have not been successful.
- To resolve disputes in relation to Schedule 1 of the Children Act where there are issues in relation to the financial provision for the children of unmarried parents.