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"But I want my day in Court!"

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"But I want my day in Court!"

Lauren Power, Associate Solicitor in our Family Law Department, looks at a change in this area.

Often clients will understandably want to issue an application to Court, in the hope of seeking a resolution to what is often a protracted and on-going matter. This may be financial settlement matters or an issue regarding spending time with the children.

However, from 29th April 2024, parties wishing to issue an application to Court will need to give even more careful consideration as to how they can settle matters with the other party outside of the Court setting. The need for the parties to engage in the mediation process has been well established over the years, with the party looking to issue an application to court having to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), unless there was an exception that could be relied upon.

As of 29th April 2024, the Family Procedure Rules (FPR) will be amended to focus on non-court solutions, referred to as non-court dispute resolution (NCDR). The intention is to reduce the number of applications coming before the Court and to encourage parties to reach a resolution. Should a party fail to do so then there can be cost consequences imposed if a party has not engaged in non court dispute resolution. Therefore, greater focus will now be placed on trying to resolve issues before steaming ahead to Court. Of course, in some situations, an application to Court may be necessary. In those cases, parties will need to file a statement at Court setting out what their position is regarding non court dispute resolution in advance of any Court hearing.

Lauren commented that “It will be interesting to see how the next year will play out in terms of non court dispute resolution and the impact that this will have on the Court in terms of timetabling and how long a matter will take to be listed for a hearing. How far Judges will go to make costs orders against parties who do not sufficiently engage in the process is something that I will be keeping a close eye on. I expect to see greater emphasis on sending clients to, not just mediation, but other dispute resolution sectors, including arbitration becoming more prevalent. The issue of non court dispute resolution in children cases will also be an area of note and the practicalities of this.”

For more information, or to book an appointment to talk, contact our team today on 01928 735333.