Shona Templeton in our firm is one of only 29 lawyers in Scotland accredited as an Arbitrator in Scotland. She is a member of the FLAGS organisation (Family Law Arbitration Group Scotland). Details are on the website at www.flagscotland.com. Shona was recently asked to speak at a conference to other solicitors about the usefulness of arbitration in family law. It is somewhat bizarre that this method of resolving disputes has not been adopted by family lawyers. There are however clear advantages for arbitration over other forms of dispute resolution and in particular litigation which has financial and emotional cost.
Arbitration is a method of resolving disputes that does not require parties going to court. The arbitration process is flexible and can resolve full issues surrounding separation and divorce or indeed is appropriate to address single issues, which are causing a negotiation to falter., for example, disputes over the date of separation or disputes over the value of matrimonial property. The benefits of arbitration are that it is an adversarial, yet inquisitorial process that has many advantages to a client. In particular, it is quicker and operates to a fixed time table that is set by the parties and the arbitrator. This means that the process is not open ended and subject to a court time table.
- The process is confidential which can be a significant benefit to clients of high net worth, who do not wish their business interests to be discussed in open court.
- The process may be cheaper as the arbitrator will work with the parties to determine what is the appropriate method for the process and can focus the parties to provide relevant information to the issues in dispute.
- The arbitrator has considerable discretion to tailor the process to the nature of the particular dispute.
- All of the arbitrators are trained or experienced family lawyers and accredited specialists. They are experts in their field and can be chosen to address particular disputes that the parties need to address.
Shona is happy to discuss with all of her clients the use of arbitration as a method of resolving disputes and is also able to sit as an arbitrator to resolve the disputes of other parties.