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What is a Private FDR?
The Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearing, is an important second stage of financial proceedings in the Family Courts. The purpose of the FDR is to provide an opportunity for the parties to negotiate a final financial settlement with the input and assistance of a family judge. It is an informal hearing before a Judge where the Judge hears a summary presentation of each side’s case. The Judge will express a view about the likely outcome of the dispute to assist the parties towards settlement but does not have the power to make an order if they cannot agree.
Often cases settle at the FDR hearing or shortly afterwards based on the indication the court has given. However, they have their limitations:
- Court lists are becoming more congested and there is usually a considerable delay before the FDR takes place.
- Financial Remedy cases are listed in such a way that your case can be removed from the list at short notice. Thereby, losing your hearing date, and then having to wait for the case to be re-listed. This will result in further costs.
- As with other court hearings, the parties have no power to choose who the Judge will be. Experience shows that, through no fault of their own, the Judges assigned to deal with FDRs have not always had the chance to read the papers and prepare fully for the hearing, or have the relevant experience in this area of law.
- The FDR can only take place at a specified time during the Financial Remedy process.
- Family disputes are often about more than one area: for instance, children and money. An FDR will normally only be able to deal with one area.
Why have a private FDR?
- Avoids the Court delay
- The evaluator will have pre-read the papers and will be available for the whole day
- The parties can choose an evaluator in whom they and their lawyers have confidence.
- The FDR can deal with all or any aspects of the dispute which the parties wish.
- Flexibility in venue, although the facilities at 1COR are ideal for holding private FDR’s.
- It may save money in the long run.
Private FDRs can be used for any value of case are not just for “big money” cases and can save costs. The length of a Private FDR can vary, and solicitors may choose to represent their clients themselves, thereby avoiding the cost of instructing counsel on each side. Private FDRs are very effective before court proceedings have been issued, where the parties have exchanged disclosure but where agreement has not been reached.
Private FDR’s are suitable for direct public access.
Tim Bergin returns to full time practice - Apr 2021
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