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Children Arbitration: A Speedy Solution for Contact Disputes during Covid-19 and beyond (including 3-step printable guide)

Hassan Khan, MCIArb, Barrister and Children’s Arbitrator at 4PB, explains how arbitration may offer a prompt and appropriate remedy for children disputes between parents.


Hassan Khan, MCIArb, Barrister and Children's Arbitrator at 4PB

Speedy access and prompt decisions in private law children disputes are among the worst hit casualties during the Covid-19 pandemic. I have received numerous calls from concerned solicitors relating to clients relying on Covid-19 as a basis for denying time spent with a parent, with the result that nothing can supposedly be done until a court eventually hears the dispute. Of course, the Family Division and Cafcass have issued their own guidance in relation to what is expected in these cases. But what about the significant number of parents who remain in deadlock and cannot wait until a court can hear their case?

Children Arbitration offers a speedy and prompt solution. A specialist and experienced children barrister acts as your private judge, and whether as a swift paper exercise, or after listening to both sides (remotely), can provide a written determination quickly. All this is likely to shave months off any court-ordered decision, especially now. Arbitration is also something to consider for most private law cases, given the increasing burden on public resources.

With Arbitration, clients can be assured that the determination made by an Arbitrator is legally binding in the same way as a court-ordered decision and any resulting court order can be enforced through the courts. The previous President, Sir James Munby, expressly endorsed the Family Law Arbitration Scheme and produced practice guidance in 2018. The current President, Sir Andrew MacFarlane, at the Resolution Conference in 2019 stated that

"there has got to be a better way." than "using the Family Court to resolve straightforward, non-abusive, relationship difficulties between parents who separate is unlikely to be an effective course to follow, costs a great deal of money and is not seen, by many of its users, to be working effectively."

This is where Arbitration comes into play.


Stage 1 - Suitability
First, check if the nature of your dispute is covered and suitable for Arbitration.

The scheme covers:

The scheme does not cover:



Click here for the printable practice guide.