At Unit Chambers, we offer our clients various options when it comes to dealing with the arrangements over their children. We believe that litigation is not always necessary and some parents actively want to look at alternative models for resolving differences over the welfare and arrangements for their children.

There has been a growing development around ADR [Alternative Dispute Resolution] with Judges strongly calling for unnecessary litigation to be avoided. The courts have the power to pause any court case and direct parents to engage in an alternative dispute model.

There are three models of alternative resolution that Unit Chambers offers:

Arbitration
Early Neutral Evaluation
Mediation

Arbitration

Lisa Edmunds is the only barrister in Liverpool and one of the first in the North West who is qualified to offer Arbitration for children matters. She uses her 20 plus years of expertise and knowledge to assist parties in reaching a binding decision. Lisa is a member of a panel of trained and accredited arbitrators [CIArb].

At Unit Chambers, we can offer a comfortable more natural environment for you to resolve difficult issues. We can offer Arbitration at offices in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and London.

Arbitration is a process designed to achieve resolution outside of a courtroom. The parents/interested parties enter into an agreement under which they appoint an arbitrator to adjudicate on the issues and agree to be bound by the written decision of the arbitrator.

The Arbitration scheme can help you resolve a variety of issues, for example,

  • Generally any issue between parents or other persons holding parental responsibility or sufficient interest in a child’s present or future welfare,
  • Where a child should live including shared living arrangements,
  • What time a child should spend with a parent,
  • Education and
  • Disputes concerning routine and non-life-threatening medical treatment.

Arbitration is different to mediation. Arbitration is designed to resemble court proceedings. An arbitrator will hear evidence and arguments from both sides (with or without legal representation) before reaching a decision that is supported by a written document (known as the ‘determination’). By contrast, a mediator helps a couple reach their own settlement by agreement. The arbitrator has similar powers to a Judge. The decision is binding.

There are many benefits to arbitration:

Time: resolves issues in a timely manner.

Cost: saves/reduces the money you spend.

Confidentiality: everything that is discussed and decided on remains confidential.

Protecting your well-being: avoids prolonged emotional turmoil and uncertainty.

Choice: you decide and appoint the arbitrator.

Control: you decide the issues that you want to decide.

Flexibility: you select the date, time and venue.

Certainty: a quick and final determination on your issues.

Explanation: a well-reasoned and easy to read document that explains the outcome and reasons for that.

Should you wish to secure Lisa Edmunds as your Children’s Arbitrator would need to complete and submit an application via the professional body for arbitrators (‘IFLA’) by completing Form ARB1CS. You will need to nominate Lisa as your arbitrator or alternatively ask IFLA to nominate the arbitrator.

Many arbitrators, including  Lisa, will at the initial stage suggest a meeting to discuss the nature and scope of the arbitration but also create an opportunity for you to meet her before deciding whether to proceed or not.

After the form is submitted to IFLA the following are the next steps:

  • Appointment is offered to the Lisa
  • Lisa seeks the parties’ agreement to the terms and conditions
  • Lisa accepts the appointment and the process formally begins
  • Lisa contacts the parties with a view to progressing the arbitration
  • Often (although not necessarily) there will then be a meeting to decide what needs to be done to get the case ready for the arbitration hearing.

You, Lisa and any other parties to the arbitration will agree on the fees (usually on either an hourly rate or fixed day fee) by agreement at the outset. The usual practice is for the costs of the arbitrator to be shared equally between the parents/parties.

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Early Neutral Evaluation [‘ENE’]

Our team of senior consultant barristers offer appointments for ENE.

You can choose from: 

         Teertha Gupta QC

         Lisa Edmunds

         Clare Porter-Phillips

ENE is a form of alternative dispute resolution. An experienced barrister provides the parties with a non-binding assessment of the merits of their dispute. Another way of describing it is that the parties are provided with an advanced indication as to what a Judge is likely to do should the issue go to a judge for a decision. The advantage of engaging in this process is that the parties receive an early guide in the negotiation process allowing them to be better informed and encouraged to reach an agreement and avoid the need for costly and lengthy litigation.

This can be used to resolve many disputes relating to children and finances. The process does not stop any of the parties from proceeding to a court determination if they cannot reach an agreement via ENE.

Once all necessary material has been gathered it is then sent to the barrister for consideration. The barrister then liaises with both parties (via their legal representative if involved) to agree on a mutually convenient date, time and venue to meet.

At this meeting, the barrister will listen to what each party wishes to say about each issue in dispute. The barrister will then evaluate matters and explain the merits or otherwise of each person’s case and suggest what the court is likely to do.

Mediation

 Our senior team offer mediation services. You can choose from:

         Teertha Gupta QC

         Clare Porter-Phillips

         Kerri O’Neill

Mediation is where the parties agree to discuss matters in the presence of a third party, ‘the mediator’ who is there to assist and guide the discussion to ensure each person’s view is heard and investigated. The focus is on empowering the parties to work collaboratively to find an agreed solution to the issue. The outcome is one that is owned by the parties and is not one that is decided by somebody else. It usually takes place with all people in the same room but at Unit Chambers we can, where necessary, arrange it so each party has their own separate space during this process.

Should you wish to consider ADR please contact Eve Humphries, our Practice Manager who will be able to listen to you and help you decide if ADR is for you – [email protected]