Friday, 13 July 2018

Partnership approach pays dividends

Lawyers from a Telford firm have joined forces with a network of city-based barristers to offer a fresh approach to family disputes.

The family law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, is working with experts in Birmingham, to develop an arbitration scheme that could speed up difficult cases.

Gemma Himsworth, who leads the Martin-Kaye family division, said she and her colleague Jane Tinsley were in talks with some of the city’s top barristers.

“Arbitration is a little-known option for family disputes, but it’s something that we believe could be increasingly useful – particularly in the current climate when the court system is struggling and creating huge delays.

“There is of course no such thing as a quickie divorce, but the arbitration option is definitely something that could help ease the pressure on the legal system and help resolve family issues in a shorter time.”

Mrs Himsworth said divorce itself was a relatively straightforward process, as long as those involved had someone to assist with the correct paperwork.

“But the divorce doesn’t deal with the finances such as dividing up the house, business, income, and other assets – this is the part that often takes the longest time and costs the most money.

“We already regularly refer clients to mediation, but if the case can’t be resolved that way, traditionally the only other option has been for both parties to go to court.

“Now, thanks to our discussions with Birmingham-based barristers, we can suggest arbitration where both sides jointly appoint a fair and impartial family arbitrator to resolve the dispute.

“It’s a flexible and completely confidential process, but the huge advantage over something like mediation is that it results in a final decision – if both sides still can’t agree after arbitration, the arbitrator will make a decision for you.”

Mrs Himsworth said the arbitration process did come at a cost as the arbitrator had to be paid, but it often still led to cost savings because it led to a faster decision, potentially cutting down on the amount of time people had to maintain two households and two mortgages.