Family Arbitration

Arbitration offers a cost effective and expedited alternative to court proceedings; with all parties agreeing to appoint an independent specialist to determine their dispute.

College Chambers is now able to offer a full arbitration service to parties involved in family financial disputes, including:

Applications for a financial order following divorce, or the breakdown of a civil partnership, or cohabitation; the financial support of children, claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975; and claims under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.

Derek Marshall is fully qualified to act as arbitrator.

Why arbitration?

The many advantages of arbitration include:

Parties are able to choose their arbitrator. There usually only two hearings (directions and final hearing). Parties retain control of the process, and progress at their own speed. Decisions can be made on paper or orally according to the case complexity. Location and the date of hearings are determined by the parties and the arbitrator, and are not dependent on other court cases. Hearings are relatively informal, with continuity provided by the arbitrator. Full confidentiality. A decision can be made on part of a case.

The cost of the arbitration is met by the parties, but is a cost-effective alternative to court-based family finance litigation.

All arbitrations are conducted according to the Institute of Family Law's Arbitration Rules 2015 (a copy of the IFLA Rules 2015 are available here) and under the provisions of the Arbitration Act 1996, applying the law of England and Wales.

How to proceed

The first step will usually be an informal telephone call with the clerks to establish the availability of arbitration. We will ask for some details to permit preliminary consideration as to whether the case is suitable.

Both parties to the case will then be asked to complete the IFLA Form ARB1 (2015 Edition), a copy is available here. This will need to be registered with IFLA before the arbitration can commence.

Once appointed, the arbitrator will agree a date, place and time with the parties' legal advisers for a directions appointment. We will send a checklist to the lead party, who will partially complete it and then forward it to the other party to complete the remainder. This checklist is designed to enable best use of the directions hearing.

At the directions hearing the arbitrator will consider such matters as the need for further pleadings or formal documents (for example, Form E or responses to questionnaires); and the format of the final hearing (for example, whether to hear oral evidence). Where possible the arbitrator will give an indication of any issues the parties may be able to resolve themselves. The parties and the arbitrator will then agree the date, place and time of the final hearing.

Where oral evidence is required at the final hearing, this will normally be taken on oath or affirmation but will not normally be recorded unless the parties specifically require it. The arbitrator will give a reasoned, written decision at the end of the case unless the parties elect otherwise.

The costs of the arbitration and the arbitrator's fees are usually met by the parties in equal shares in the first instance, unless the parties agree a different arrangement. The arbitrator retains overall discretion as to the final award of costs, but will not ordinarily expect to make an order that one party pays the other's costs unless it is justified by the litigation conduct of the paying party. The full rules on costs are set out in Article 14 of the IFLA Rules.

IFLA cases do not involve an FDR/CMC hearing, but as an alternative means of dispute resolution we also provide a separate service of private FDR meetings.


Family Arbitration barristers