Lawyer Monthly - October 2022

The Remote Court The world stopped, temporarily, for COVID-19. The Courts Service responded as it had to, by prioritising family cases where the safety of a child was at risk, and other types of family cases inevitably suffered further delay. Eventually, however, a new way of working was established – the technology was in place for hearings to be dealt with by video link and the pace of justice seemed to pick up a little. As restrictions around the world relax, however, the Family Court is, inexplicably, reverting back to ‘in-person’ hearings for a large part of its workload and often in circumstances which have left practitioners dumbfounded. What this means for litigants is a return to travel and lack of predictability about how long they might actually be at court. This highlights another benefit of arbitration: the parties can determine how much of the case can be heard remotely – and in some cases it can be the entire of the case – and there is complete certainty about the start time of the hearing. Conclusions Family arbitration is a very effective tool for determining disputes. It has been road-tested and honed over the 10 years since its inception, and it continues to enjoy the support of the judiciary. The choice of arbitrator has increased manifold and the scheme now applies to the widest possible scope of family disputes. Appeals are very rare indeed, which lends weight to the suitability of the scheme, and it has now – finally – become a mainstream form of dispute resolution. As the delays in the court system continue at the same time as busy professionals return to work, a bespoke family dispute resolution service that works wholly for the parties has never been more necessary and more relevant. EXPERT INSIGHT 73 About Julie Stather Julie Stather MCIArb has been practising in family law for over 20 years as a barrister. She has a wealth of experience in all aspects of family law including matters relating to children and to finances. Having seen the delays in the court system and the additional stress (both financial and emotional) which legal proceedings can cause, She has been a strong advocate of noncourt dispute resolution for some years. Julie previously headed her own companies offering both mediation and arbitration, and she now arbitrates exclusively out of 1 Crown Office Row, Brighton, which is a leading set ranked in the Legal 500. Julie is an Arbitrator in both children and financial disputes as well as providing advice and representation to clients for both court proceedings and non-court dispute resolution processes. She is a regular contributor to family law periodicals, the author of the Secure Accommodation handbook, and she trains other professionals on a variety of topics. Contact Julie Stather Barrister/Arbitrator 119 Church Street, Brighton, BN1 1UD Tel: +44 01273 625625 Fax: +44 01273 698888 E:

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