Private FDRs at 9 Park Place
Private FDRs at 9 Park Place
The current pandemic has led to major disruption in all walks of life, including the court system. At present, the courts are functioning and many hearings remain listed. It is likely, however, that there is significant disruption ahead. The courts are already overstretched: if cases are delayed or adjourned due to a lack of court time, a lack of court staff or Judiciary, then it may be many months before they are relisted.
This has brought about a renewed focus on private FDRs as an alternative forum for resolving financial remedy cases. This is where the parties agree to an FDR, but it is conducted and chaired by an experienced local Financial Remedy practitioner, rather than within the Court process by a Judge.
Mr Justice Mostyn notes in his Guidance of 17 March 2020 that parties should be “encouraged” to hold a private FDR, rather than a Court FDR, at present. This approach is supported by our High Court Liaison Judge, Mr Justice Francis, and by our local Financial Remedy Unit Lead Judge, His Honour Judge Furness Q.C. Accordingly, in the event that a private FDR does not succeed in bringing the parties to an agreement, it will not usually be necessary to hold a further Court FDR.
Therefore, in addition to Chambers continuing to offer representation and advocacy at both Court-based and private FDRs, a number of experienced Financial Remedy specialists at 9 Park Place are able to offer a further service in conducting and chairing private FDRs. All have the further advantage of sitting either as a part time Judge, or as an arbitrator, in Financial Remedy cases, and all are able to offer these hearings remotely at this time.
Christopher Felstead, who sits as a Recorder and holds a Financial Remedy Unit complex hearings ticket;
Natalie Sandercock, who sits as a Deputy District Judge and holds a Financial Remedy Unit complex hearings ticket;
Matthew Barry, who sits as a Deputy District Judge, and who is also an Arbitrator, holding IFLA and MCIArb accreditation; and
David Gareth Evans, who sits as a Deputy District Judge.
More information follows below, but if you would like to find out more about this service, then in the first instance please contact Michael Lieberman, Senior Clerk, to discuss your requirements on 02920 347189 or email MLieberman@9parkplace.co.uk
What are the Advantages of a Private FDR?
The Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (FDR) is a key stage within contested Financial Remedy proceedings. It is designed to promote settlement between parties, thereby saving them money, and just as importantly, stress and anxiety. When conducted well by an experienced Judge, who has had the opportunity to read and consider the papers and issues within the case, FDR hearings can be very effective with a high settlement rate. Too often however, an FDR fails because it is dealt with by a Judge who does not have the necessary experience or expertise, or has simply not had the time to properly consider the case and express a clear and considered view.
An alternative route for parties is to agree to a private FDR. This allows parties the time necessary to carefully and fully advance their case before an experienced practitioner sitting in private outside the Court arena, taking on the role of an FDR Judge, and to receive clear indications from that experienced practitioner as to the strengths and weaknesses of their case, and as to the likely outcome. Indeed, the private FDR Judge may be able to offer an alternative or more creative solution to the issues raised by the parties.
There are many advantages to a private FDR:
The parties have to agree to the process. This in turn gives them ownership of the appointment.
Choice of Judge:
The parties have to agree the identity of the private FDR Judge. They are able to ensure that the appointment is before an experienced practitioner in whom they can have confidence, and who will have read and considered the papers in detail prior to the appointment.
Subject to the availability of your chosen private FDR judge and advocates, there is little delay.
The parties can agree on the time, place and length of the appointment. Most private FDRs would be booked for a whole day, allowing the parties plenty of time to advance their case, as well as providing the time to negotiate fully. They can return to the private FDR Judge as often or as little as is required during the day.
Private FDRs can be held via a number of formats avoiding an in-person attendance, including Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or telephone conference call.
The parties can agree the appropriate stage at which to seek a private FDR, including pre-issue.
They can agree on the scope of the issues to be put before the private FDR: allowing for evaluation of any discrete complicating issues, or ask the judge to consider the case more globally.
A perceived disadvantage is expense: whilst of course there is a charge for a private FDR, it is frequently the case that the savings in accumulated legal fees, or in maintenance pending suit payments, are a significant counterbalance to the cost of the private FDR. Moreover, given the judicial encouragement to use private FDRs where possible, if a private FDR has already taken place, it is unlikely the Court will require the parties to engage in a further FDR in the Court arena.
If you would like to make an enquiry about a private FDR using one of the specialist practitioners at 9 Park Place, please contact Michael Lieberman, Senior Clerk, to discuss your requirements on 02920 347189 or email MLieberman@9parkplace.co.uk