Dispute Resolution outside Litigation – Alternative Dispute Resolution


Alternative Dispute Resolution is an important and complementary part of the legal services that Harcourt Chambers provides. ADR can be accessed at any time, and judges will regularly recommend to parties during litigation that they should explore the advantages of finding alternative ways of resolving their disputes. Revised guidance issued by the senior judiciary in response to the current public health emergency urges parties to make use of non-court based dispute resolution.


Harcourt Chambers has a widely experienced ADR team of Juniors and Queen’s Counsel, including those who are also Deputy High Court Judges, Recorders, Deputy District Judges, Arbitrators and Mediators.


Clients find that resolving their disputes without continuing in, or towards, litigation can lead to more practical, earlier and more cost-effective solutions to their family law problems. Clients using Harcourt Chambers’ dispute resolution expertise receive high calibre service, manageable fee rates and practical support from our barristers and clerks.


Dispute Resolution can be facilitated in person using the accommodation that is available in both our London and Oxford premises.  In Oxford, there is a whole floor dedicated for the purpose.


In the current circumstances, all our ADR team are able to conduct alternative dispute resolution processes remotely by video or telephone conference on a wide range of platforms. 



Early Neutral Evaluation: for children and finance clients

Early Neutral Evaluation gives clients the opportunity, whether individually or together with the other party in their case, to receive an independent and expert opinion on the merits in their case.  


Whilst the outcome and evaluation indication (that can come after oral presentations, or on information provided in writing) is not binding, it may greatly assist to narrow or resolve individual issues, or a whole case. By having an experienced and specialist barrister objectively evaluate the case at an early stage, clients can gain an understanding of the relevant factors in their case with the aim of  enabling informed decision making about how to proceed. Harcourt barristers provide this service in all areas of Family Law practice, with specialists available for financial remedy proceedings, international children matters, and private law children disputes.


ENE advice can be given at a meeting, including remotely by video or telephone,  or through reports in writing.  Reports can be produced by a single barrister, or by having two barristers look independently at a case and produce a joint report. Please contact the clerking team for further details of which of our experienced team of barristers who undertake ENE would be suitable for your case.



Private FDRs

A Private FDR models a tribunal environment where parties engage in a process that will be similar to a court hearing for the middle part of financial remedy proceedings. Private FDRs aim to facilitate negotiations with the benefit of an impartial, objective and expert recommendation as to a solution for a financial settlement on family breakdown.  The parties to a financial remedy dispute will, once the evidence in their case is ready, each set out their proposals for the resolution of their dispute in a without prejudice environment, and their case in support of it.   A well-prepared and experienced practitioner will be available to the parties throughout the day, who will after hearing from the parties give an indication of an anticipated outcome to the dispute, which will include outline reasons for that indication. That barrister will be further, and exclusively, available throughout the day to assist parties to resolve the case through their own negotiations.   This service applies the format of court based FDR practice, but is not a court or a formal tribunal.   As with formal FDRs in court, narrowing and settlement of issues are regular features of private FDR processes.  


Private FDR practitioners are: 

Damian Garrido QC

Matthew Brett

Fiona Hay MCIArb

Jane Campbell

Louise Potter MCIArb

Julia Shillingford

Margaret Styles MCIArb

Suzanne Syme MCIArb 

Michael Gleeson

David Marusza


Fee ranges: 


QC: £5,000 + VAT

Junior barristers: £2,000 - 2,500 + VAT




Harcourt Chambers has six arbitrators trained in financial and private children cases, formally accredited and members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.  


Arbitration is a process which offers the parties the opportunity to retain a significant amount of involvement in how the process will work for them and to be bound by the arbitration decision.


Parties may select what issues to bring to arbitration from the single issue -  for example a sticking point during a mediation about arrangements for children, or the term / quantum of interim periodical payments – to an all-issues matter.   Parties select their arbitrator and location for the arbitration.    Harcourt Chambers has a large arbitration room, alongside two separate private rooms for parties.   Technology support means that hearings can be conducted remotely, by telephone for directions appointments for example.   The arbitration decision is communicated in writing within an agreed period of time after the arbitration hearing. This is usually a matter of one or two weeks only.  Parties may confirm their arbitration decision by conversion to a court order.  There are limited appeal/review opportunities for any arbitration decision.


Arbitration is a process that can be set up quickly, leading to speedier outcomes, by a process in which the parties retain a degree of control.  The aim is for the arbitration hearing to take place on a single day.   Arbitrations may also be conducted on papers without parties present if the parties so elect, or as shorter hearings in appropriate cases.  


It is a private process, without the same access from the media that court proceedings may attract.   Arbitration is a privately funded option for those who have family law disputes, that takes them largely outside the court process. Its speed, privacy,  and the ability to determine what issues are decided means that for many it will represent good value for money. 



Children cases: John Vater QC MCIArb, Jason Green MCIArb 

Financial Cases: Fiona Hay MCIArb , Louise Potter MCIArb , Margaret Styles MCIArb , Suzanne Syme MCIArb 


Fees for a 1 day arbitration hearing, to include a one hour telephone directions hearing in advance if required, and the writing of the award, returned to the parties within 7 working days.


QC: £5,000 + VAT

Subsequent day(s) - £2,500 + VAT per day.


Junior: £2,500 + VAT

Subsequent day(s) - £1,250 + VAT per day.




Harcourt Chambers offers lawyer mediation.  Mediation is a voluntary process in which an independent mediator assists the parties to negotiate over the issues that divide them. It encourages co-operation and better communication to facilitate the parties reaching agreement.  Respect for the parties’ authority and capacity to make their own decisions is paramount in mediation.  The mediator has no stake in the dispute and has no power to impose a settlement on the parties.  The process of mediation assists the parties to explore and test their family, children and money options in a safe way and, in doing so, enables them to become the architects of their own agreement. 


Our mediator barristers have completed specialist family mediation training separately from their barrister qualifications.  Our mediators do not give specific legal advice to the parties in mediation.  However they are able to help the parties appreciate the principles on which a court might act and on the range of outcomes there might be should the parties’ case proceed to fully contested litigation. We find that our mediators, because they work day-to-day in the courts,  are able to convey to the parties in mediation the full implications, both financial and personal, of continuing the dispute, and to set that against the prospects of a process which the parties themselves can control in terms of timescale, flexibility of approach and cost.


Mediation can be adapted to suit the needs of clients and their cases.  It can range from single to multiple issues.  It can take place over several sessions with parties both present, or, depending on the circumstances, can take the form of a shuttle facilitation between parties. The priority is always to help parties to produce constructive, imaginative, fully documented and personally-centred solutions to their disputes.  Not every dispute can be resolved in one session and it is common for parties in a family mediation to return on one or two occasions.  Each family mediation session will usually last around 1.5 to 2 hours but could be up to 3 hours.  If joint proposals can be reached, the mediator can prepare a ‘mediation summary’ document or a ‘parenting plan’.


Mediation can be effective even where disputes may have become intractable, including during litigation where the parties find inflexibility and expense. We also offer civil mediation services in TLATA and inheritance claims where it can be particularly effective in producing a breakthrough, or enabling the parties to appreciate the issues and evidence in the case.



Margaret Styles MCIArb (children and financial cases)

Alison Williams (children and financial cases; trained and working towards accreditation)

Michael Gleeson (civil law and family financial cases)


Fees for mediation:


Daily fixed fee: £1250 + VAT

Hourly rate (for document drafting): £200 + VAT

2 hour fixed session fee: £350 + VAT



Round-table meetings and negotiations

Our barristers, and our updated premises are available for round-table meetings and shuttle negotiations. 





2 Harcourt Buildings
Dx 373 LDE
Tel 0207 353 6961


Churchill House
3 St Aldate's Courtyard,
38 St Aldate's, Oxford
Dx 96453 Oxford 4
Tel 01865 791559


0207 353 6961


Regulated by the Bar Standards Board  
Bar Standards Board Barristers’ Register
Legal Ombudsman’s Decision Data


©2020 Harcourt Chambers
All Rights Reserved