Emma Hitchings (University of Bristol), Joanna Miles (University of Cambridge), Hilary Woodward (University of Cardiff)
This article explores key findings from a recent two-phase research study: (1) a survey of c 400 court files in concluded financial order cases pre-dating the implementation of LASPO's legal aid reforms, drawn from four different courts in England, covering consent order applications, contested but settled cases and the small minority of adjudicated cases, and (2) interviews with solicitors and mediators practising in those four regions exploring their experiences of handling these sorts of cases. It examines the issues of how, when and why financial cases settle, including the dispute resolution mechanisms used (whether or not involving contested court procedures), the stage at which settlement is reached after contested proceedings are initiated, and the factors which practitioners consider promote, delay or preclude settlement being reached. Evidence regarding the prevalence of different out of court dispute resolution processes underpinning consent order applications are examined, along with evidence regarding the involvement of litigants in person (including parties apparently acting without lawyer support in consent order applications) and their impact on the settlement of these cases.
This paper was presented at the Family Justice Council Interdisciplinary Conference: Family Justice Redefined? The May edition of Family Law will be a special issue containing some of the most important papers presented at the conference. For more information or if you would like to reserve your copy please contact customer services on 0117 923 0600.
The full version of this article appears in the March 2014 issue of Family Law.