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Mediation v Arbitration v Litigation

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The world is moving fast and the law is being accessed differently. People have choices as to how they wish to settle their disputes. The options are becoming greater as to how disputes are settled.

Mediation allows you to take control of your own future; it is about making decisions that are right for your family. One of the advantages is that when people make their own agreements they stick to them because they have not been imposed. Decisions can be made about children which reduce the conflict. Children in a divorce so often say that they wish there had been less fighting and that they had been encouraged to love the other parent. The children felt there was a terrible burden on them to be loyal to each parent putting them in a difficult position.

A further option was launched last week namely the Family Arbitration scheme. A new concept for family law but not within the commercial sector. So what are the advantages. Well for the rich and famous they keep the media out of their affairs – it is private. The process is likely to be a lot quicker than traditional litigation. The arbitration agreement is said to be binding but a Judge still has to approve the agreement. If it is reasonable and appropriate it is likely to be approved but if not the Judge will unpick the agreement to take into account the needs of the parties and in particular those of the children. Furthermore, if the parties are dissatisfied who will they complain to as at present there appears to be no regulation.

Litigation is the least attractive and most expensive means for the parties. This does not mean you should not seek legal advice or in appropriate cases should your solicitor negotiate on your behalf. Many solicitors do an excellent job of brokering and agreement by negotiation between lawyers. In some cases it is the right thing to litigate. However, it has to be recognised that litigation if it proceeds to a final hearing takes away the parties control. Any decisions will be court imposed by a Judge.

So the message has to be that we must encourage people to keep communicating very often with some assistance. Take your future into your own hands with appropriate legal advice!

By family law solicitor, Gillian Davies