Stowe Family Law Settlements launches value for money October offer on arbitration and mediation
Much is often made about the perceived opaqueness of legal costs and the inability of family law firms to provide fixed fees. As I regularly point out on this blog, no two family cases are the same and so it is very difficult to guarantee costs at the outset.
But I have taken note of comments to this blog about the high costs of legal fees, which can run into the tens of thousands of pounds, and also the regular battering (meant in the nicest of ways!) I seem to get on ITV’s This Morning about the high cost of legal fees. I have decided not to ignore it any longer and run with the hare for a change, just to see what happens…
I’ve decided to offer two completely different, value for money processes. Furthermore, it involves taking the aggressive approach away, instead using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) through Stowe Family Law’s partner firm Stowe Family Law Settlements, which will be offering a fixed price offer for cases conducted using arbitration and mediation - and I await the results with interest!
I believe that family law arbitration and lawyer-conducted mediation have always offered an excellent alternative to the courts in the right circumstances, and I’m keen to raise awareness in general of what both involve. So throughout October Stowe Family Law Settlements will take on appropriate cases using mediation or arbitration for a fixed fee of £1,250 plus VAT and any disbursements, such as court or estate agent fees.
We launched Stowe Family Law Settlements in 2011 with a team of trained lawyer-mediators in response to the growing interest in mediation, arbitration and collaborative law services – and in anticipation of the Government’s launch of Mediation Information Assessment Meetings (MIAMs).
The resurgence in interest around mediation was then closely followed earlier this year with the launch of family law arbitration, which offers a legally binding outcome to financial cases – something that is only optional in mediation. I was selected as one of the first family law experts to undergo training and complete the qualifications required to become one of the first family law arbitrators operating under the new scheme, and became a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb).
Both mediation and arbitration can be used to resolve a range of legal disputes. For mediation these include divorce and separation agreements, cohabitation agreements, children issues, grandparents’ rights and prenuptial agreements. While arbitration covers only the financial aspects of a family dispute; including prenuptial and post-nuptial arrangements, cohabitation, divorce settlements, interim arrangements, financial claims under the Children’s Act and claims under the Inheritance Acts.
The arbitration process is straightforward: after both agreeing to undertake arbitration, disputing parties can nominate an arbitrator or have one assigned by the formed Institute of Family Law Arbitrators. Parties then present cases to the arbitrator, who adjudicates their case and, ultimately, makes a legally binding decision – known as an award. It saves all the time and trouble of waiting month-upon-month for the process to expensively wend its way through the courts. In most cases arbitration can be a shortcut with the outcome known within weeks, and can be completed with or without the parties own lawyers.
Mediation follows a similar process, although the intent and outcome is different. Mediation doesn’t impose a solution, it is a process undertaken to assist clients in reaching an agreement together. The outcome is not legally binding unless both parties agree it is to be incorporated into a legal order.
Both processes benefit in many cases from only employing one lawyer – reducing the cost of resolving the case. But lawyers can still take part if you prefer. And other benefits include the ability to resolve legal issues without the need for court proceedings. Couples are also able to maintain their privacy, because there are no court judgments to be made public. Above all it is the speed with which it is resolved that will attract most couples and now, during October, the most attractive feature of all is the price. Divide the price by two and that is all it is going to cost each of you.
To find out more about arbitration visit the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators’ website at ifla.org.uk To book an appointment with Stowe Family Law Settlements visit www.stowefamilylawsettlements.co.uk , or call 0844 854 5421.
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Marilyn Stowe is the senior partner in Stowe Family Law, which has offices in Yorkshire, Cheshire and London. With more than 30 years’ experience handling divorce cases and family law proceedings she is regarded as one of the most formidable and sought after divorce lawyers in the UK. In 2012, Marilyn became one of the first solicitors to qualify as a family law arbitrator.
All persons mentioned in the scenarios are fictitious: details have been deliberately changed in order to protect identities and other confidential circumstances of my clients. All advice and information on this blog including posts written by guest authors, is given only as a general guide to the operation of the law on the date of publication. Readers must place no reliance whatsoever on the content of this blog and must always obtain their own legal advice. Marilyn Stowe, Stowe Family Law LLP and guest authors accept no liability whatsoever arising as a result of reliance upon its content.
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