DISPUTE RESOLUTION (“DR”)
QEB offers five particular forms of complementary DR, by way of alternative to the stress, delay and essential uncertainty of litigation and court proceedings:
- Private FDRs
- Round-table meetings/Joint Conferences
- Collaborative Law Single Joint Experts
Lewis Marks QC, Lucy Stone QC, Charles Hyde QC, Tim Amos QC, Jennifer Roberts QC, Andrew Tidbury and Duncan Brooks conduct Private FDRs. All are experienced QCs or have judicial appointments.
In addition, Sir Alan Ward (recently retired from the Court of Appeal) and Sir Hugh Bennett (a former High Court Judge) offer private FDRs under the QEB umbrella. Sir Hugh Bennett sits at regular intervals as a s.9 High Court Judge hearing financial cases and is also a Judge of the Courts of Appeal of Jersey and Guernsey, including hearing financial appeals. He has conducted many successful private FDRs (both in England and abroad), and the feedback from the solicitors involved has been extremely favourable.
The FDR, or Financial Dispute Resolution hearing, is a key stage of financial proceedings in the Family Courts. An FDR is an informal hearing before a Judge when the Judge hears a summary presentation of each side’s case and gives "early neutral evaluation" of the likely outcome if the case were to proceed to a final hearing, so that the parties are assisted to negotiate for themselves a tailor-made solution with an understanding of what a Court might be likely to order if the case went to a final hearing. It is, in effect, non-binding arbitration. This procedure is generally successful in producing autonomous settlement in 80-90% of cases which would otherwise involve judicial determination at a final hearing and which, in reality, would otherwise involve months of further waiting (and significantly increased legal costs) for a final court hearing.
However, such is the pressure on the Court’s listing of cases that even a supposedly straightforward FDR may itself involve a wait of many months just to get a Court date in front of a Judge who in some courts may turn out not to be an expert in money cases, and/or not to have had sufficient chance to read the case papers in advance of the FDR appointment, and/or who may not be able to devote sufficient time to securing a negotiated settlement.
A private FDR avoids the inherent risk of insufficient court time or judicial expertise. It also avoids the delay in waiting for a court date. And, very importantly, it can take place wholly outside the Court process – with or without the existence of court proceedings in parallel – and is not confined to financial issues (as is the case with Court-FDRs).
Private FDRs are not just appropriate for “big money” cases and can save costs. The length of a Private FDR can vary, and solicitors may choose to represent their clients themselves, thereby avoiding the cost of instructing counsel on each side. Private FDRs are very effective before court proceedings have been issued, where the parties have exchanged disclosure but where agreement has not been reached.
A QEB private FDR provides an early date; an appointment of flexible duration; an expert who will have read the papers thoroughly in advance and who will be able to give the parties the time which they may need in order to resolve the dispute; and assistance with drafting if required.
held reputation for excellence.”