Early Neutral Evaluation is already an established process in court, in relation to both financial applications (where there will be a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing) and children disputes (where there will be a Dispute Resolution Hearing). At these hearings, which are held prior to the listing of a contested hearing, a judge will give the parties guidance as to his or her view of the likely outcome in the case in order to encourage and facilitate settlement of some or all of the outstanding issues, with the aim of saving costs, and reducing delay and stress for the parties. Unfortunately, from the time of the first hearing in court, it can take many months before the parties are given a date for their settlement hearing (FDR or DRA). This drives up costs and only serves to extend tension and stress for the parties.
1GC|Family Law’s ENE service now allows parties to gain a similar forecast, out of court, subject to the level and strength of disclosure and representation, but often far quicker and at an earlier stage than court proceedings can achieve.
Members of Chambers offer ENE in cases involving:
- Financial matters,
- Arrangements for children, or
- Encompassing both.
The service is tailored to the needs of the individual clients. It is a bespoke service that can be designed to meet the requirements of the individual case, with the ability for guidance to be provided for both simple issues as well as more complex ones. The parties can book as long or as short an appointment as they wish. It can happen at any point in a dispute – even before court proceedings are issued or at the same time as on-going court proceedings.
ENE can help to resolve obstacles to settlement rapidly and can assist to break the log-jam which holds up overall settlement. An expert view on likely outcome from one of our highly experienced and expert family law barristers can be obtained on one particular issue, on a number of different issues or on all the issues in dispute, as the parties may require. It is a very flexible tool.
ENE can be given orally in conference with either just one party or both parties and their legal representatives present, or an opinion as to likely outcome can be provided in writing to the party/parties. It can be provided on either a privileged basis (so that issues do not arise as to the status of the ENE) or on an open basis (allowing the ENE potential greater albeit not binding weight in court proceedings).
1GC|Family Law considers that ENE can provide a significant, early and rapid benefit to parties and their solicitors, facilitating a just settlement. The booking of an ENE appointment can happen at a time to suit the parties, and take as much or as little time as they require, not being constrained by a crowded court list.
Clients instructing a 1GC|Family Law barrister to conduct ENE can be confident that they will receive a first rate, dedicated and highly professional service, such that they will leave at the end of the process wholly satisfied that their individual situations have been considered with complete attention to detail and that likely outcomes have been expertly identified. In this way a settlement can be made all the more likely.