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  • Government strengthens Family Court’s powers to require parties to explore alternatives before asking the Court to resolve their disputes 

    The Family Procedure (Amendments No 2) Rules 2023 will come into force on 29th April 2024 to amend the Family Procedure Rules - the rules which govern how the Court’s deal with Family Law cases.  

    The focus of the changes is very much on steering more cases away from the Court and towards not only Mediation, but other methods of resolving disputes outside of Court, such as Arbitration, Private Financial Dispute Resolution Hearings and Collaborative Law. See our previous article on these subjects here.

    The main changes that will be introduced by these amendments can be summarised as follows. 

    1. The definition of “non-court dispute resolution" at Rule 2.3 (1) (b) is expanded to specifically add ‘arbitration, evaluation by a neutral third party (such as a private financial dispute resolution process) and collaborative law’ as forms of non-court dispute resolution. 
    2. New Rules 3.9 (2) (e) and (f) are added placing an obligation upon the person conducting the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to indicate to the party which form, or forms, of non-court dispute resolution may be most suitable as a means of resolving the dispute and why, and to provide information about how to proceed with that form of non-court dispute resolution. 
    3. A new Rule 3.3 (1A) requires parties to file with the Court and serve on the other party a form setting out their views on using non-court dispute resolution as a means of resolving the case.
    4. Existing Rule 3.4 (1) has been amended so that the Court no longer needs the parties’ agreement to adjourn proceedings to enable the parties to obtain information and advice about, and consider using, non-court dispute resolution.
    5. Rule 28.3 (7) is amended to add a failure by a party, without good reason to attend at a mediation information assessment meeting (MIAM) or at non-court dispute resolution (NCDR) to the list of circumstances when the Court may depart from the usual no order as to costs presumption. 

    These amendments reflect the strength of feeling among the Family Judiciary that where parties should make use of all the methods of non-court dispute resolution before asking the Court to resolve their disputes.

    Our specialist family lawyers are not only experts in representing parties in court proceedings, but experienced in advising clients in respect of all forms of non-court dispute resolution.

    Contact our team today

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