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Family Arbitration

Family Arbitration can save a mediated divorce from crumbling into a nasty costly court fight, so should more mediators be focusing on it as a resource for their clients?

In the very first of a short series of short articles,  how family arbitration could become a powerful new device in the mediator’s toolbox is explored, as it has done over the pond in the United States and Canada. In part two, whether it conserves the client cash and whether the arbitrator’s decision is always enforceable by law is examined, and  part 3 will deal with the probability of family arbitration growing strongly in the UK, or will it go the way of collaborative law, which (up until now) is still mainly unidentified by the public as an alternative for navigating divorce?

Family Arbitration is the newcomer in the family law neighborhood in England and Wales, and the potential benefits to separating clients are tremendous. Family arbitration has triggered interest by people like New York Mediator Ken Neumann, who has explained how useful arbitrators could be in un-sticking a mediation process. “Sometimes,” he described, “the couple can not settle on one problem, and they simply really want someone else to decide for them.”.

An outstanding talk offered by UK Arbitrator Mena Ruparel is persuading some that the increase of family arbitration in the UK was a cause worth supporting. Several arbitrators were contacted through e-mail on a Friday evening resulting in a cascade of responses by the Monday morning! The  interest was self evident for arbitration among a wide range of family law experts who have certified as family arbitrators, ranging from barristers, mediators and collective attorneys.

In other parts of the world, including the United States and Canada, when a mediation process founders, an arbitrator is brought in if the couple desire it, to resolve the argument for them. This is also how it can work here – but currently not enough solicitors are notifying divorcing couples properly of this alternative.

When a Mediation fails to bring contract on all aspects of the divorce, instead of ending up in court – where the whole process can untangle and start right back where you started, losing all the contracts already made – with a Divorce Arbitrator that single sticking point can be fixed. And quickly (compared with waiting months for a court date).

Some feel sadly this is not presently possible in the UK if the Collaborative Law procedure gets stuck – it is just an option for mediation, which can advance after the issue has been chosen by the arbitrator.

Even if a financial planner gives clear advice on how a pension could be split or the division of home possessions, it might be that the social events would like an adjudication from the Arbitrator who will compose their award and make a legitimately binding decision. The Arbitrator can also handle discrete aspects of a case so if there is a mediation where there is one issue that has to be dealt with, this can be described arbitration keeping the remainder of the agreement in tact.

We recommend that even with the potential benefits of arbitration, you will benefit from the advice of a specialist family law solicitor. We can make a suitable recommendation in your locality.


Original reporting by the Huffington Post – 18/7/14


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Family Law Disputes – Legal Aid Cuts

Former High Court judge Baroness Butler-Sloss has criticised the Government over cuts to legal help for dealing with personal family law disputes.

In her very first Lords speech since being appointed to lead the coalition Government’s questions into allegations that establishment figures conspired to cover up child abuse, she alerted the cuts “block the courts” and “create delay”.

Lady Butler-Sloss dealt with calls yesterday to step down from the questions after reports that her sibling Sir Michael Havers tried to prevent ex-MP Geoffrey Dickens airing claims about a diplomat in parliament in the 1980s.

But the Prime Minister supported her and Lady Butler-Sloss refused to give up.

Today, in a discussion on the UK’s legal systems, the former president of the family department and independent crossbencher welcomed much of the family regulation presented over the last 25 years.

But she said the “bad” part was that from April there had actually been no legal aid in private family law disputes, including youngsters and finance, with the exception of those involving domestic violence or child abuse.

Lady Butler-Sloss said divorce was a “unpleasant process” for all but in a small minority of cases the former relationship turned “corrosive” with one or both previous partners using the courts to combat their failed relationship.

Some disliked their partners so much that they could not come to any arrangement and mediation would not work in these conditions.

She said men and women, inexperienced in the law, battling their failed relationships, were appearing unrepresented before the courts due to the cuts.

Courts faced with “provider bags of unsorted and disorganised papers” discovered the task “huge and unmanageable”.

“It obstructs the courts. It creates delay and I hope the Government would pay attention to the reality it is not cost effective.”.

Lady Butler-Sloss added: “We have Magna Carta celebrations next year and they will sound hollow in the face of the failure to be able to do justice in private family law disputes.”


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DNA Tests: Paternity – Family Law

Justice minister Simon Hughes discloses steps aimed at dealing with increase of unrepresented litigants following cuts to legal help.

A DNA swab test

A DNA swab test. Simon Hughes said that we are funding DNA tests which will figure out who the dad is instead of having three days of legal argument.

Free DNA tests are being offered to accelerate resolution of conflicts over the paternity of kids, the justice minister Simon Hughes has revealed.

Pilot programs launched in Taunton and Bristol belong to a campaign aimed at taking on difficultiess in family courts, which have been inundated with unrepresented litigants following cuts to legal aid.

Speaking at a Westminster Legal Policy Forum debate in London, Hughes asked for all youngsters over 10 to be enabled to take part in separation cases so that their views might be considered and recommended that family courts need to become recommendations centres to prevent excessive choice to legal representatives.

Those who consistently appear in the family courts would, according to the minister, in future be helped by the government’s Troubled Families Unit, headed by Louise Casey, which was arranged to expand its work from 120,000 to 400,000 households.

Hughes said: “We are funding DNA tests which will figure out the issue about who the father is instead of having three days of legal argument.”.

The Taunton and Bristol pilots, including one rural and one metropolitan area, was likewise offering free hair tests– made use of in alcohol and drug courts to assess whether people have been abusing alcohol or medicines.

The purpose was, likewise, to provide clear answers to common allegations and prevent hours of expensive legal argument and delay. The project is being run by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), but funded by the Ministry of Justice.

The president of the family court division, Sir James Munby, was recently compelled to adjourn a contact case because the father, a founded guilty sex culprit, was unrepresented and not able to pay a professional to challenge the mom’s evidence. The judge has asked the MoJ to solve the issue.

Susan Jacklin QC, chair of the Family Law Bar Association, stated many litigants in person felt “totally at sea, worried, nervous and stressed” when appearing without legal representation.


DNA Paternity Testing

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Number of cases began in family courts in England and Wales (first quarter of 2014 programs) dropped by 6 %

The number of cases began in family courts in England and Wales in very first quarter of 2014 programs 6 % drop year on year, according to mention

The Ministry of Justice has posted the most up to date stats on kind and quantity of cases that are received and refined through the court system of England and Wales in the very first quarter of 2014 January to March.


This report offers stats on activity in the county, family, magistrates’, Crown and other courts of England and Wales. These stats focus on 4 major categories: civil instances (omitting family members), household cases, criminal situations and judicial reviews. For this version there is also additional yearly details on the Appellate Courts and the Judiciary. The figures themselves offer a summary review of the quantity of situations dealt with by these courts gradually, with statistics likewise broken for the main kinds of instance entailed. The data are utilized to check court workloads, to assist in the development of policy, and their succeeding monitoring and assessment.

For this (June) version, extra yearly information exists for 2013 including the workload in the Appellate Courts, cases under the Mental Capacity Act, work in the Offices of the Supreme Court and varieties of magistrates and sitting days for the judiciary.

Family Cases

In January to March 2014, breakup composed 45 % of new situations in family courts, with private legislation contributing 19 % and economic solution 16 %. In overall, partnership failure instances make up over four-fifths of the courts’ caseload. A comparable photo is additionally viewed for the situations ended.


For a recommended family or divorce solicitor in London contact us at Which Solicitor? – The Solicitors Information Service on 020 7483 4833.


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Land Registry – Changes

Land Registry widening its powers and take on local land charge searches

Land Registry is making it easier to register a property in England and Wales.
It is to become the sole registering authority for Local Land Charges (LLC) in England and Wales, leading to a standardised national fee for the first time and an end to the existing ‘postcode lottery’.

The changes will also lead to an improved, standardised and digital service and will result in better access to property information and a more streamlined conveyancing process. Preparatory work will begin from April 15 for a phased migration of the LLC service to begin later that year.


Work will begin on a phased migration of the LLC service to Land Registry from April 2015.

The announcement was made as Land Registry unveiled the results of its consultation into extending its powers and assuming statutory responsibility for a digitised LLC register for England and Wales.Ed Lester, Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive, said:

“The proposals will provide a “one stop shop” digital LLC search service, which will improve and standardise the service through faster turnaround times. This is consistent with Government’s digital by default agenda and will ease the process of buying property.”

“We have listened to the consultation feedback on LLC and have made a number of changes to the original proposals. For example, the period covered by a LLC official search will not now be limited to 15 years.”


For a recommended conveyancing solicitor in London contact us at Which Solicitor? – The Solicitors Information Service on 020 7483 4833.


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