The Certainty Project – a new approach to dispute resolution
Wace Morgan is proud to be part of and promote the Certainty Project. This is a new approach to dispute resolution designed by experienced professionals for separating couples. It brings together both mediation and arbitration with the certainty that an outcome will be reached. It is suitable for financial matters.
Wace Morgan has an in-house team who are able to deal with all aspects of family law, including divorce, civil partnership dissolution, separation, co-parenting arrangements and family dispute resolution.
Our team includes a qualified mediator and qualified arbitrator, making the whole process much simpler and quicker. Solicitor and mediator fees are based on hourly rate and the arbitrator’s fee will be agreed.
For some years, the court has been severely understaffed and underfunded, which has led to significant delays. During the Pandemic, the situation has unfortunately only worsened. The court now actively promotes dispute resolution processes outside the court framework.
We also see mediation cases where the process stalls and no agreement is reached.
It is clear that the Certainty Project has huge benefits, particularly with regard to the speed of resolution and cost-effectiveness. The overall aim of the project is to achieve certainty of time, cost and process.
How the Certainty Project approach to family dispute resolution works
The starting point is that the parties agree to work within the Certainty Project framework and for each to appoint a panel solicitor who promotes the project and adopts the non-confrontational ethos and holistic approach. It is anticipated that the parties will take legal advice from their solicitor as necessary throughout the process.
Making an arbitration agreement
At the beginning, an arbitrator is agreed, for example a solicitor arbitrator or barrister arbitrator. The parties sign an arbitration agreement, which means they agree to be bound by the arbitration process and agree that any decision made by the arbitrator will be binding upon them. The arbitrator will convene an initial appointment to set out the scope of the arbitration.
Filling in Form E
In financial matters, the arbitrator will direct disclosure in Form E, the instruction of experts if necessary and will then adjourn arbitration to enable mediation to take place.
Entering into mediation
The parties will then enter into mediation with an agreed mediator on the basis of a fair and level playing field to see whether they are able to reach an agreement with regard to the issues between them. It is anticipated that no more than 4 mediation sessions will be required. Mediation may bring about no agreement or agreement with regard to some or all of the issues.
If agreement can be reached…
In financial matters, if an agreement is reached, the arbitrator will make an award and solicitors will prepare an order setting out the agreement, which will be sent to the court for sealing.
Resolving outstanding issues
If there are outstanding issues or no agreement on any issues, this will be resolved through arbitration. The arbitrator will determine the outcome, which is binding. In financial matters, the arbitrator will make a full award. Solicitors will prepare an order setting out the agreement, which will be sent to the court for sealing.
The benefits of using the Certainty Project arbitration and mediation framework
There are significant benefits for both parties including:
- Certainty that an outcome will be reached
- Faster resolution than the court process and usually within 6 months
- More cost-effective than the court process
- Focus on reaching an agreement between the parties and only if that fails will an arbitrator make a final and binding decision
- Co-operation between all involved in the process to reduce conflict and stress
- Working with a team of experts chosen by the parties including their own solicitor, a mediator, arbitrator and other professionals, as necessary
- Face to face or remote meetings
- More flexibility, such as choosing arbitration dates
- More personal input to find workable solutions to meet the parties’ needs
- Increased control by the parties
- Less formality than the court process
- Use of the same documents where possible to avoid duplication and cost
- It is a private process