Make way for family arbitration
By Suzanne Kingston
Arbitration in family law can be used to resolve all financial and property issues, but it is the bespoke, streamlined, quick and cost-effective nature of this alternative to court that makes it the most innovative and increasingly popular dispute resolution option within the family law arena. In a nutshell, arbitration can achieve an outcome for separating couples for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the time that it would take to pursue court proceedings.
One of the most ringing endorsements of family arbitration must be the very recent judgment of S v S  EWHC 7. This provides the strongest judicial support for the use of family arbitration seen to date and paves the way for it to take centre stage in resolving relationship breakdowns. From here on, in the absence of very compelling countervailing factors, arbitral awards will be capable of being the ‘single magnetic factor of determinative importance’. It will only be in the rarest of cases that it will be appropriate for family judges to do other than to approve the arbitral award. Moreover, to quote the president of the Family Division, Munby J, ‘with a process as sophisticated as that embodied in the IFLA [Institute of Family Law Arbitrators] scheme it is difficult to contemplate such a case’…
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