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CM v CM [2019] EWFC 16

Application to determine the wording of a letter of instruction to an expert in financial remedy proceedings. Mr Justice Moor commends the use of arbitration to decide such issues.

The parties were engaged in financial remedy proceedings. A report from an expert had been directed at the First Appointment within those proceedings. The order from the First Appointment set out the precise issues on which the expert was to report. Despite this, the terms of the letter of instruction were subsequently unable to be agreed, the applicant having made significant changes to the respondent's initial draft. The parties made cross-applications seeking for the court to approve their respective draft letters of instruction.

Mr Justice Moor refers to the applications as ones that filled him with "dismay". At paragraph 10 of his judgment, he records that High Court Judges "do not have time to draft letters of instructions or even to determine disputes as to the wording of such letters." He considered this an issue that "would be exactly the sort of matter that should be referred to an arbitrator who is accredited by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators."

Mr Justice Moor ultimately refused to approve the majority of the applicant's proposed changes to the letter of instruction and made an order for costs in the respondent's favour. 

Summary by Frances Stratton, barrister, 1 King's Bench Walk

For the full judgment click here