Alternative Dispute Resolution

St John’s Chambers can offer all forms of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation, arbitration and private FDRs. These provide a bespoke alternative to the delay, stress and uncertainty of litigation and court proceedings.

Most people experiencing relationship breakdown want any dispute to be dealt with as swiftly, cheaply, privately, and with as little acrimony, as possible. As such opting for private dispute resolution can have a number of distinct advantages compared with going to court.

We have accredited mediators, qualified arbitrators, and barristers to help find a solution to each of the parties’ needs.

To arrange your free half hour preliminary meeting with an arbitrator to ascertain if your case is suitable for arbitration please contact our clerks on 0117 923 4720 or email here

10 key advantages of ADR

  1. You can choose your own arbitrator, mediator or Private FDR judge: One major advantage of private dispute resolution is that the parties themselves, guided by their lawyers if they have them, are able to select the person whom they wish to arbitrate their dispute. This enables you to find the person best qualified to help your clients resolve their dispute. By contrast in the court process judges or magistrates are allocated to cases and it is not possible for the parties to request a particular judge or certain magistrates.
  2. You get continuity & predictability: In the court system a number of different judges or magistrates and legal advisors are likely to be involved at different stages of a case, in an arbitration or mediation the appointed arbitrator or mediator alone (unless co-mediating) will deal with the dispute from start to finish. This saves time and costs as any interim issues can be deal with by the same person with detailed knowledge of the case.
  3. Your arbitrator, mediator or private FDR judge will always have had the time to prepare: Another advantage of ADR is that increasing pressures on the court system have had the result that judges or magistrates often do not have time to prepare for hearings in advance. If attending a hearing at court parties often come to court not knowing whether their case will start or finish on time, or will be reached at all. In an arbitration the arbitrator’s continuous involvement means that he or she will set aside time to read the papers and to prepare thoroughly for hearings and will be available to deal promptly with applications for directions and other issues that may arise in the course of the arbitration. In mediation your mediator will always have read the papers and be on top of the issues that need to be dealt with.
  4. You can select which issues you agree to arbitrate or mediate: You can use ADR for urgent issues, or simple issues. For example, if you are negotiating a consent order and most aspects can be dealt with by consent but you are stuck on one or two points you can ask the arbitrator to just determine them on the papers. Alternatively, a mediator can help to try to bring the parties together. The children arbitration scheme encompasses all issues relating to the exercise of parental responsibility or the present or future welfare of children, including upbringing, present or future living arrangements, contact and education. The scheme applies but is not limited to matters which could be the subject of an application to the Family Court under section 8 of the Children Act 1989.
  5. You can conduct the dispute at your own speed: From start to finish the arbitration process will take substantially less time than contested court proceedings and the timetable can easily be tailored to suit the parties’ convenience. One particular advantage is that parties who proceed direct to arbitration avoid the MIAMs requirement. Hearings or Mediations will always be arranged on convenient dates and at convenient times.
  6. You can retain your existing legal advisors: If, (as is recommended), the parties have instructed lawyers, they retain them throughout the arbitration or mediation process for advice, preparatory work and representation at hearings or during mediations. There is nothing to stop parties representing themselves in an arbitration or mediation, but if they choose to do so, it is strongly recommended that they take legal advice beforehand.
  7. You can control of the process: In an arbitration the parties ’own’ the procedure to a far greater extent than in court proceedings. For instance, they can agree that the arbitrator should make his or her ‘determination’ (in children disputes) based on consideration of the paperwork alone or that there should be a court-style hearing. If they opt for a hearing, they can decide in advance whether the arbitrator is to hear oral evidence or just submissions. This ability to streamline the procedure may well lead to significant savings of time and costs. A mediation can be flexible as to whether the parties are seen together or separately and how long should be allocated to the mediation.
  8. You can assure total confidentiality: The mediation or arbitration process is completely private. Hearings take place at a venue of the parties’ choice, and there is no possibility of media access at any stage. Papers are held securely in the arbitrator or mediator’s office.
  9. You can have flexibility: Unlike court hearings which have a fixed schedule mediation or arbitration can take place at any time that can be agreed: Saturdays, after work, during school hours only, half days or whatever suits the parties.
  10. Costs: Mediation and arbitration can be surprisingly cost effective where the alternative is prolonged court proceedings with the unpredictability of costs and timescales. Arbitration or mediation will often be a fixed cost. Hearings can be quicker because the arbitrator or mediator will be well prepared and there are likely to be far fewer technical problems with remote arbitrations or mediations unlike court hearings.


Family Arbitration is a voluntary method of resolving disputes in relation to both finances and children in a binding manner through the joint appointment of a private judge (the arbitrator). St John’s Chambers offers IFLA qualified arbitrators who can determine both finance and children cases.

Arbitration can take place at any stage in a dispute and can be used to determine a discrete issue or to resolve the whole of the dispute. It is a uniquely bespoke and flexible service an arbitrator’s can be asked to give a determination on the papers in an appropriate case which can be of significant benefit to clients where an urgent decision is required. Alternatively, there can be a hearing, similar to a court hearing, with or without evidence, depending on the nature of the case. This can happen remotely by way of a suitable online video platform or in person. If arbitration takes place in chambers there will be no charge for the accommodation.