Emeritus Professor of Family Law, a Vice-President of the Family Mediators Association and Academic Door Tenant, Regent Chambers
Barrister, Regent Chambers
The authors consider religious and civil arbitration as particular routes to consent orders, and the weights that the court may attach to them. They first discuss the lessons to be learnt from the recent case of AI v MT  EWHC 100 (Fam), and from previous published comment upon it, together with some disparate views expressed about Jewish and Muslim approaches to the matter. The discussion then turns to the civil route, with reference to the Institute of Family Arbitrators and the "Edgar" (Edgar v Edgar  3 All ER 887) criteria.
They note the apparent lack of published research on the respective fates of these routes to consent order applications, and suggest that the arbitral tribunal, the rules applied and the cultural context in which it operates will all have relevance, as AI v MT demonstrates, and that the test is a difficult one. The position of agreements relating to children is entirely different from that of financial remedies. There is no tried and tested mechanism for obtaining the imprimatur of a court order, and the facts on which a child's welfare is to be judged are not as easily established and expressed.
The full version of this article appears in the July 2013 issue of Family Law.