What is ENE?

Early neutral evaluation (ENE) is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which a neutral third party (an experienced barrister) provides the disputing parties with a non-binding assessment of the merits of their dispute. The intention is that by receiving ENE guidance early in the negotiation process, the parties will be better informed and encouraged to reach a swift settlement and avoid the need for often lengthy and costly litigation.


What can ENE be used for and what is the process?

 It can be used to facilitate agreement upon all manner of disputes from dividing marital assets to deciding with whom and where the children should live.

ENE does not prevent the parties from having their disputes determined by the court if they do not settle their dispute at or following an ENE hearing.

  • Early Neutral Evaluation is used to resolve both children and financial disputes (when it is usually known as a private Financial Dispute Resolution hearing or “private FDR” – see separate page).
  • When all the relevant evidence is available, it is sent to the senior family law barrister conducting the early neutral evaluation for review.
  • Both people involved, and their legal representatives meet the senior barrister who will evaluate and explain the respective merits of each person’s case, and suggest what the court might decide on the evidence.
  • The senior barrister acting as an early neutral evaluator has no power to decide what should happen next – that decision remains with the people involved, advised by their legal teams.
  • The evaluation procedure is confidential, cost-effective and promotes settlement in family law matters. even when the dispute is at an advanced stage.


Early neutral evaluation (ENE) is suitable for direct public access.

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