Round Table Meeting and Private FDR

Sitting around the table in order to discuss issues is often an extremely effective way to move a dispute forward. A Round Table Meeting (RTM) is simply a meeting where the parties and their legal advisors can meet, with the objective of seeking a mutually acceptable resolution to their dispute. The meeting takes place on a without prejudice basis, which allows the parties and their advisors to speak freely without fear that what is discussed will later be used against them in court proceedings if they cannot reach agreement. Such meetings can take place prior to, or during court proceedings. The agreement to meet can often change the tone of the dispute from a combative process to a more collaborative one. Even if the parties are unable to conclude a settlement, the meeting can be useful in helping all parties to explain and understand why the other party is adopting a position and help maintain momentum. RTMs serve to focus everyone’s mind on the case and on looking for a solution, they can help uncover and overcome “deal blocking” points.

If agreement can be reached there will be a significant saving in legal fees. As there is no independent evaluator, arbitrator or mediator the associated fee of such a person is avoided. RTMs also have the great advantage of matters being agreed that the court simply cannot order in the event the dispute is determined by a Judge. When working together to resolve the dispute the parties have the ability to control and be creative in their settlements.

Should you require any further information about the benefits of RTMs as a form of alternative dispute resolution please contact us.

The Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (FDR) is an important hearing within the court process and is supposed to provide the parties with an early neutral evaluation where a Judge expresses a view about the likely outcome of the dispute, if the matter were to proceed fully contested to trial. This process is aimed at encouraging the parties to settle at an early stage and to narrow the areas of dispute between them. The hearing is without prejudice and the Judge does not have the power to impose an order on the parties, if they do not reach agreement on the day. FDRs have a high success rate and many cases do settle either at, or shortly after the FDR hearing. However, due to congested court lists the parties often have to wait a considerable amount of time for their FDR to be listed; the allocation of the FDR Judge is a lottery- the parties cannot choose, and they may be faced with a Judge who has not had time to read the papers and prepare fully. This leads to a great deal of client and lawyer frustration. To avoid this situation many of our clients elect to have a Private FDR, where the evaluator is often a part time family law judge or senior family law barrister, agreed by the parties in advance and is paid to conduct the meeting and provide the parties with the early neutral evaluation to encourage them towards settlement. As with court based FDRs the evaluator has no power to impose a settlement on the parties if they cannot agree.

Private FDRs offer great advantages in that:

  • They can happen before court proceedings are started or at any stage in the court process pre-trial
    There is very little delay
  • The parties have the power to choose the evaluator in whom they and their lawyers have confidence
  • The evaluator will have had the opportunity to read the papers and prepare fully for the meeting
  • The meeting can deal with all or any aspects of the dispute which the parties wish
  • The meeting can take place at a venue of the parties’ choice

The firm has extensive experience in advising clients who wish to proceed by way of a Private FDR and work closely with the very best private FDR evaluators in London’s top family law barristers’ chambers.

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