Financial Dispute Resolution and a Brief to Counsel.

3392023998_c0830ce282_nWell, it is 5pm and it is already pitch black outside. I have successfully cleared most of my desk this morning and for once it is looking relatively empty, I doubt it will remain this way for very long. I have spent most of the day preparing a brief to counsel for a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing.

A Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a court hearing during which the parties are assisted in reaching a settlement, obviously a case doesn’t always settle at this stage, but the aim is to encourage settlement. A FDR takes place in a courtroom, although it is not a courtroom as you would imagine, it is normally a smaller room in which the parties and their representation sit at two tables and the Judge heads the tables. The parties are required to sit and listen to the arguments put forward on their behalf and those put forward on the behalf of the other party. The Judge may have read position statements from each party before the hearing and it is possible that the parties have already engaged in some form of negotiation prior to going before the Judge.  Once the Judge has heard all arguments he/she will indicate how the case is likely to play out and the stance that a Judge may take at the Final Hearing. Once the Judge has given his indication the parties will retire from the courtroom and engage in further negotiation.

Should the parties successfully negotiate a position and settle, a consent order will be drawn and they will go before the Judge in order to get it approved. A successful outcome means that each party is now free to continue with their lives. However, as I said cases do not always settle at this point, although the parties may come closer to bridging the gap between their current positions. It may be that negotiation will then continue and settlement may be reached prior to the Final Hearing. An unsuccessful outcome does however have the issue of surmounting legal costs as the case progresses to Final Hearing, something for another blog post.

The brief to counsel for such a hearing is extremely important. The Judge will only hear what Counsel have to say and therefore if counsel is uninformed or missing information then they could easily not put a vital point to the Judge. So I finally take the over 400 page document down to the legal secretary for her to attach a covering letter and DX, and it is now time to go home. As I say it is already dark outside so I think it is time for a brisk walk home and a cosy night in.

Marilyn Stowe wrote an interesting blog post on FDR’s, which can be found at: http://www.marilynstowe.co.uk/2009/02/24/financial-dispute-resolution-%E2%80%93-look-out-for-these-stumbling-blocks/

Photo by nojhan via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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