Family law organisation Resolution has welcomed the recent judgment from Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, in the case of S v S, in which he upholds the decision (award) made through a private arbitration. This award was made under the scheme established in England and Wales by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA).
The judgment makes clear that, in the view of the President, “there is no conceptual difference between the parties making an agreement and agreeing to give an arbitrator the power to make the decision for them.”
This means that family arbitration awards effectively hold the same weight as agreements made between parties through mediation or collaborative law.
The President further indicated that the streamlined process, previously applied to orders made under collaborative law should “…be made similarly available in cases where the consent order is the product of an arbitral award under the IFLA Scheme.”
James Pirrie, who acted for one of the parties, and is a member of Resolution’s National Committee, said:
“Anyone involved in family law should welcome this judgment, which highlights the many advantages of arbitration and builds confidence that an arbitrator’s award will help in resolving a dispute.
"In this case, the matter was resolved within eight weeks from the signing of the agreement to arbitrate to the issue of the award, anonymity has been retained, and the costs to both parties are a fraction of what they might have otherwise been.
“It is particularly interesting to note the statement that parties who seek arbitration may have their cases ‘fast tracked’ by the courts in the future. This encourages separating couples to reach agreements themselves, and where this is not possible on financial matters, arbitration is a quick and effective alternative to court.”
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