ProfileI qualified as a barrister in 1992 and as a family law arbitrator in 2015. I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (MCIArb), the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators, the Family Law Bar Association and Resolution. I specialise in arbitrating family law cases with a financial element and can also offer Early Neutral Evaluation (“ENE”) to help parties resolve family finance disputes.
I am a barrister in private practice at Fourteen in central London. I specialise in financial claims when family relationships end. Areas of particular expertise include cases involving:
• analysis of business accounts
• company shareholdings and business valuations
• assets held offshore
• hidden wealth and other forms of material non-disclosure
• farms, share options, art collections and other atypical financial resources that demand special consideration
• domestic and overseas enforcement of financial orders, including the tracing of assets.
In addition, I frequently represent clients in the range of family disputes, including: contested divorce and nullity proceedings; issues about the welfare of children under the Children Act 1989; applications for permission to relocate abroad with children; child abduction proceedings; the enforcement here of foreign judgments and orders. I regularly am invited to lecture on financial remedy law topics to family law professionals.
Beyond my experience in family law cases, I also undertake work in employment law and business litigation. Continuing to undertake non-family law cases enables me to bring to my arbitration / ENE work a breadth of experience many other family arbitrators cannot offer.
Further details about my practice as a barrister can be found at fourteen.co.uk
About family arbitration
Arbitration is a form of private dispute resolution that takes place outside of the court process. The parties agree to appoint a suitably-qualified impartial person (“the arbitrator”) and engage in a flexible, and confidential process tailored to their requirements to resolve their dispute without having to go to court. They agree to be bound by the arbitrator’s decision (“the award”). The arbitrator will act fairly and impartially, giving each party the opportunity to put their case.
At the end of the process, the arbitrator will provide a clear, reasoned written decision applying the law of England and Wales, just as a judge would do.
Arbitration is a good alternative for those who cannot resolve their family law issues through mediation or negotiation. It differs from other forms of non-court dispute resolution (such as mediation or collaborative law), in that the parties are guaranteed a decision at the conclusion of the process which will be binding upon them.
The decision of the arbitrator will be recognised and respected by the court, and will be made an order of the court upon request.
ENE is similar to arbitration. It involves the parties asking a neutral specialist to provide a preliminary view (“the opinion”) about a dispute – for example, an assessment of the facts, the evidence or the legal merits. Unlike arbitration, in ENE the opinion is non-binding. Instead, it is an unbiased assessment of the parties’ positions, and a forecast of the likely outcome if the case proceeds to a court hearing. The opinion is designed to help with negotiations, or at the very least narrow the scope of the parties’ dispute.
One type of ENE proving increasingly popular is the private Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (“the FDR”). In financial proceedings, the court schedules an FDR before the final hearing. At the FDR, a Judge gives a view about the likely outcome if the case goes to trial, to help move the parties towards a settlement. However, within court proceedings an FDR can only take place at a specific point in the process. The pressure on courts means there is usually a long wait for an FDR. The Judge allocated to the case will often have to juggle several FDRs at once, leaving limited time to read papers and hear argument before delivering an assessment.
Private FDRs address these shortcomings. A private FDR can happen at any stage (even before proceedings are started). The parties can have confidence the arbitrator will have read the case papers carefully beforehand and can give the matter as much time as is necessary before delivering an opinion.
Advantages of arbitration / ENE
Arbitration / ENE offers considerable flexibility, letting the parties involved take charge of how their dispute is managed and resolved. The parties can choose their arbitrator, and be confident that they will have the specialist knowledge and experience to deal with the issues in their case
Furthermore, unlike in court proceedings, it is the parties who decide the terms of their arbitration, such as:
• the date, time and venue for any meetings (including overseas venues if required)
• the nature and extent to which legal advisors/representatives will be involved in the process
• the evidence which will be adduced, including the use of experts if required
• whether the arbitration / ENE happens face-to-face, by telephone or in writing only
• which parts of their case are referred to the arbitrator for determination.
Arbitration / ENE need not be of the whole dispute. Often parties are able to agree on some aspects of their finances on separation, but find themselves unable to agree specific issues, such as the capital sum required for the parties to re-house or the amount/duration of maintenance payments to meet the parties’ income needs. The arbitrator can be asked to consider just those parts of the case which the parties cannot agree, whilst incorporating those matters which are agreed into the decision.
It is also possible to deal with interim issues through arbitration - for example, issues of disclosure, interim maintenance, provision for legal fees and so on.
With the family court under enormous pressure and significantly under-resourced, those involved in court proceedings must wait many months to see a Judge. Hearings are often adjourned at short notice because there are not enough Judges available. Litigation notoriously becomes very expensive, very quickly. Arbitration allows the parties to avoid the delays involved in the court process and can even be used before proceedings are issued. The cost of engaging an arbitrator will frequently be justified by savings made in resolving the dispute quickly and efficiently.
I particularly enjoy acting as arbitrator in disputes before court proceedings have started. It is in these cases that I can best help families save the very considerable time and money they would otherwise have to commit to spending if involved in contested litigation.
Finally, with more family cases being reported in the drive for transparency in the family courts, arbitration enables privacy to be maintained. Unless the parties agree otherwise, the proceedings and outcome will remain strictly private and confidential.
Where I work and how I charge
I am willing to travel to any suitable venue in England and overseas and to accommodate client’s requirements as regards timing of meetings, including weekends and early morning/evening meetings if necessary, subject to prior commitments. My Chambers are able to offer facilities for meetings in London if required.
My clerks will be happy to discuss and provide estimates of fees, which will depend upon the circumstances of the case and the procedure the parties wish to adopt. My clerks can be contacted by telephone on 020 7242 0858 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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