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Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution 

42BR Barristers understand the strain court proceedings can put on already fragile relationships, as well as individuals’ mental health. The associated costs, unpredictability and delays caused by the court system can leave clients in limbo for many months awaiting a hearing date in relation to arrangements for their children and / or finances. We believe that in many cases settling disputes before they reach the stage of court proceedings is beneficial to all clients, in particular where children are involved.  This is more relevant today than ever as increasing numbers of court hearings are cancelled by the courts at very short notice, incurring significant costs for clients. Some of these cases are then given only provisional listings by the court creating further uncertainty and the prospect for clients of more wasted costs.

42BR has a dedicated group of barristers within chambers designed to provide non-court based resolutions; mediation including mediation information and assessment meetings (MIAMs), private financial dispute resolution (private FDR), early neutral evaluation (ENE), arbitration and round table meetings.

42BR’s new premises at Staple Court is specifically geared to providing the best possible venue for out-of-court settlements offering a confidential, non-adversarial, spacious and safe environment. 

Private Financial Dispute Resolution and Early Neutral Evaluation

A private Financial Dispute Resolution (private FDR) or an Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is an out-of-court private hearing that can take place at any time before court proceedings are started or at any stage during the court process.  The private judge in the case of money and property and early neutral evaluator in children’s cases is jointly appointed by the clients. Having heard submissions from both sides the private judge or early neutral evaluator gives an indication or view as to an appropriate outcome of the issues.  Whilst this indication or view is not binding, these hearings can be very effective in enabling clients reach an early resolution of issues that arise following separation or divorce. Private FDRs are used in the resolution of financial issues and ENE is used in children matters.

How does a Private Financial Dispute Resolution work?

Private FDRs are a service provided by experienced members of our Financial Remedies team. Whilst the rate of successful settlement in court based FDRs is good, private FDRs often achieve an even better outcome for clients, without the costs and uncertainty of court proceedings. There is a popular misconception around private FDRs in that they are designed for ‘big money’ cases. This is not correct and private FDRs have proven to be of great benefit to those who have limited resources and wish to shorten litigation, ultimately reducing costs. 

Clients instruct one of our Financial Remedies team of senior barristers to act as an impartial private judge. The senior barrister will read through all materials thoroughly ahead of the private FDR to familiarise themselves with the case. The private FDR will be arranged through our clerks and take place at a time and location convenient to both clients. Our new premises in Staple Inn is the perfect setting for a private FDR as it offers both privacy and comfort, with convenient transport links. Typically, a full day is set aside for the private FDR to maximise the chances of settlement. Your private judge will have no other case on that day.

The length of a private FDR can vary and solicitors may choose to represent their clients themselves, to avoid the cost of instructing counsel on each side. Private FDRs are effective before court proceedings have been issued, where both parties have made disclosure but where an agreement has not been reached.  Private FDRs can also be arranged in the course of proceedings where agreed.

How does a Early Neutral Evaluation work?

In children matters the private hearing takes the form of an ENE. Here a senior barrister experienced in children matters acts in the role of an early neutral evaluator. The process follows a similar process to the private FDR but is referred to as an ENE. 

To summarise: 

  • A private FDR or ENE can be arranged quickly and with your convenience in mind.
  • The location of a private FDR or ENE is flexible. Our newly renovated premises at Staple Inn provides a comfortable and spacious venue for a private FDR or ENE, and in some cases these can also be conducted remotely or in a hybrid format.
  • Clients themselves jointly appoint a senior barrister to act as a private judge or early neutral evaluator in whom they and their solicitors have confidence.
  • Your chosen barrister, acting as a private judge or early neutral evaluator, will have read through your case thoroughly before the private FDR or ENE takes place.
  • Your private judge early neutral evaluator will have a full day to help the parties reach an agreement rather than the one-hour slot allocated for court proceedings. If further time is needed to reach an agreement, the parties can elect for the private FDR or ENE to be continued on a different day without being reliant upon court listings.
  • The private FDR or ENE can deal with all or any aspects of the dispute which the parties wish.

If you would like to discuss or arrange a private FDR or Early Neutral Evaluation at 42BR, please contact our ADR clerk Tim Dockrill on 020 7831 0222.


42BR barristers understand that for separating couple working out how to deal with future arrangements for your children and finances is extremely stressful and challenging. Our role as experienced family mediators is to help clients reach workable solutions away from the inevitable delay, high cost, adversarial nature and stress of court proceedings. 

We have extensive experience in dealing with the issues that arise when relationships break down. Having seen families undergo the trauma of slow and expensive court proceedings, we know that mediation helps clients focus on finding constructive solutions in a timely and cost-effective manner even in the most acrimonious cases.  

We mediate all aspects of arrangements for your children for example living and educational issues as well as issues around national and international relocation and your financial arrangements including pensions, inheritance and trusts. We work with clients in this country and abroad, high profile clients and high net worth matters, both on a domestic and cross-border basis.  

Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings

In the majority of circumstances before an application to the court is made, either in relation to arrangements for children or financial relief, separating couples are required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting known as a MIAM.  We offer Mediation and Assessment MIAMs conducted by an accredited family mediator. 

MIAMs are confidential and conducted on an individual basis. The purpose of a MIAM is to enable the full range of alternative approaches for reaching agreement on post-separation issues in relation to your finances and your children to be explained and considered. Following a MIAM the mediator will be able to confirm whether the issues you want to resolve are amenable to mediation and will let you know about the different forms of mediation that are available. These include shuttle mediation which is available where circumstances mitigate against couples being in the same room. 

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a cost-effective and successful alternative to court proceedings, operating in a professional, rigorous and confidential environment away from the adversarial nature of court.  Mediation can help significantly in reducing the conflict too frequently associated with concluding the legal and practical issues involved in separation, even in the most complex and acrimonious circumstances.  

Mediation is confidential.  The mediator is a neutral third person who is trained and an expert in their area.  The mediator helps you to identify the issues you want to resolve; explore possible options and then reach joint agreements. As mediators we are completely impartial, we will help you to communicate and ensure that the process is balanced and that neither person is at a disadvantage in the mediation.  Mediators manage the process but the agenda is established and agreements reached by clients.  

In general, legal representatives are welcome to attend mediations and clients have free access to consult their legal representatives at any time during the mediation. If communications are particularly strained or acrimonious, shuttle mediation where clients are in separate rooms is available 

What can I expect from mediation at 42BR?

Chambers are able to facilitate MIAMs and mediations in the professional and support environment of our chambers in person or online. Mediation sessions are usually about two hours long. More than one session may be needed to resolve the issues to be resolved, dependent on their complexity. Generally, three or four sessions are required, particularly where there are complex financial matters such as those which involve an independent pension advisor or tax expert.  Our mediation sessions are designed to accommodate our clients and some matters can be resolved in a morning or full day session.

If you are considering mediation or would like to know more about mediation or MIAMs we believe it is very important that you have an opportunity to speak directly to one of our mediators. As a first step, please contact our ADR clerk Tim Dockrill on 020 7831 0222.


What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is another cost effective, out-of-court offering from the 42BR barristers. Arbitration can be used to resolve financial disputes and disputes involving children. It can take place before proceedings are issued or at any stage with the court’s approval during proceedings. The key difference between arbitration and other alternative dispute resolutions is the arbitrator you appoint will make the decision and this is a binding decision. Arbitration is not just for married couples or those in a civil partnership, it can be used for unmarried couples also and can help resolve a wide range of disputes following the breakdown of a relationship. 

Arbitration is similar to the court process in that the arbitrator will hear each client’s case and consider the evidence.  Having done so the arbitrator, who is jointly appointed by the clients, will make a decision and give either an award if the matter is dealing with financial arrangements or a determination in children’s cases.  This decision is binding on both clients who then in financial cases agree a consent order to send to the court for approval in the terms of the award. This is subject to an appeal to a court which is based on the same approach as if a judge had made the decision at a final hearing sitting in court. 

Arbitration and mediation sometimes work together or in parallel. A family arbitrator may consider mediation would benefit a couple and may suggest this. Sometimes in mediation where one of the issues to resolve is proving difficult to settle, mediators may recommend family arbitration to determine that single issue before returning to mediation.  

What can I expect from arbitration at 42BR?

Arbitrators are senior barristers with extensive experience who will be a member of the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators. Arbitration is much quicker than court proceedings. You can fix a date for your arbitration almost immediately after you and your former partner have chosen the arbitrator. The arbitration can be arranged at a time, date and venue convenient for both parties; our new premises at Staple Inn are particularly suited to conducting an arbitration.

If you would like to discuss or arrange an arbitration at 42BR, please contact our ADR clerk Tim Dockrill on 020 7831 0222. 

Round table meetings

42BR barristers have substantial experience in the conduct of roundtable meetings and our newly renovated premises at Staple Inn provides bespoke facilities that suit the three-room format of a round table meeting.

The format of roundtable meetings usually involves three rooms: a dedicated room for each party to have private discussions with their legal representatives and a third room in which both sides meet to negotiate. At 42BR we have bespoke rooms available for three-room meetings where both sides may discuss their case in privacy, comfort and safety and then negotiate in a third room, either face-to-face or through their chosen representatives as chosen by the parties.

If you would like to discuss or arrange a round table meeting at 42BR, please contact our ADR clerk Tim Dockrill on 020 7831 0222.




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