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What is arbitration?

March 31, 2021

If you are divorcing your spouse, dissolving your civil partnership or separating from your partner, part of this process will be to agree the division of your assets and/or arrangements for your children. These issues can be agreed between you, you can instruct solicitors to enter into negotiations on your behalf, or as a last resort you may have to begin financial remedy court proceedings if you are unable to reach an agreement.

It is also worth considering the various methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), as more amicable ways of reaching an agreement without the need for court proceedings.

Arbitration is a form of ADR where a whole case or a single issue can be decided by the arbitrator. For example, you may ask the arbitrator to resolve a dispute over the wording of a letter of instruction to an expert, or to make a decision about the division of your assets. You both agree who to appoint as the arbitrator, who will usually be a judge, QC, or very experienced barrister, and you agree a convenient date, time and location for the meeting. It is possible for the arbitrator to make a decision based on the documents or you can both make written or oral submissions to support your case.

The whole process is confidential and the arbitrator will make a decision, which is referred to as an award. If you have received the arbitration award in respect of your whole case and the arbitrator has decided the arrangements for the children or how the assets should be shared between the parties, your solicitor will incorporate the terms into a consent order, which is sent to the court for approval and then becomes a legally binding document.

In most circumstances, the arbitration award is binding, which means it is final and cannot be challenged in court. However, the case of Haley vs Haley [2020] EWCA Civ 1369 indicates that in limited circumstances the award can be challenged in court if it is wrong but the party who disagrees with the award will need to show why it should not be followed. Despite this, arbitration is still a more amicable and time and cost-effective way of resolving disputes rather than resorting to court proceedings.

Wallace Robinson & Morgan Limited are based in Solihull and Dorridge and serve clients across Birmingham and the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and further afield. Our team of Family Lawyers are happy to help if you would like advice about agreeing a financial settlement following the end of your marriage or civil partnership or arranging arbitration.

If you would like to discuss your matter, please call 0121 705 7571 and ask to speak to a member of the Family law team or email us at

This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article. For more information, please click here.