Many of our clients when getting a divorce, find themselves needing to enter the court process in order to resolve financial matters. This can cause stress to mount and the current delay of the courts due to the impact of the Coronavirus causing court adjournments isn’t helping with the stress. The court has also just announced that until further notice and if any oral evidence is needed then they will be adjourned.
Alternatives do exist, in the form of mediation but there is another option that we are expecting to increase in popularity during this crisis – the Private FDR.
What is the procedure in a Private FDR?
Involved parties must first agree to pay a barrister, who will often also sit as a judge. Sometimes a retired judge is brought in to read the case and hold a “hearing” to offer their independent view on the likely and correct outcome. Lawyers will be required to present the case to the “judge”, like usual, the judge will then give their view and assist the parties to negotiate a settlement. Parties are not required to give evidence but are needed to be fully present in court. If an agreement can be reached, this is drawn up by the lawyers there and then, offering a quick and efficient solution. If an agreement cannot be reached then at least the issues are much clearer for the parties, which should aid in reducing the length of the final hearing.
Advantages of a Private FDR:
Speed – hearings can be arranged in weeks or even days rather than months or years (given the current court delays).
Reliability – the partied choose the judge jointly, this chosen judge will read all of the parties and unlike in the court system they will not be swapped at the last minute and there will be no lost or unread papers.
Time – A judge will usually be booked for a day, this means that they will be dedicated to assisting the parties with their negotiations instead of having to jump between hearings.
Disadvantages of Private FDR:
The only major disadvantage is the cost, usually in the court system you only pay the lawyers and the judge comes free of charge. However, for Private FDR you will be required to pay your lawyers and the judge; they usually charge between £3000 and £8000 per day. However, it is important to remember the cost of the judge will be split between the partied.