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Family and Divorce Law Jargon Buster: Part 31 – Arbitration

This is the next instalment in our bite size blog series in which we hope to demystify some of the terms that are frequently used by family solicitors when giving legal advice and in the family courts environment.

ARBITRATION: Arbitration is a term is used to describe a process often referred to as private litigation. It involves an independent and impartial arbitrator (in a family law context this is a specialist solicitor, barrister, legal executive, or judge) deciding any issues that opposing parties cannot agree upon. The parties choose the arbitrator between themselves and they agree in advance to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator. The process is confidential as the hearings are held in private. It is often hailed as being a quicker and sometimes cheaper process than formal court proceedings. Once a decision has been made, parties will apply to the court to confirm the terms of the settlement. It is only in very rare cases that a court will make an order in terms different to the arbitration award.