Mediation or Arbitration: What’s best for me?

12 Apr 2022 | Lisa Pepper

Few divorcing couples want to end up in court, which is why mediation and arbitration are faster and more effective alternatives for resolving financial and other matters.

Our specialist divorce lawyers know only too well the financial and emotional costs to clients of having to go to court. We have experienced mediators in our team – and a qualified arbitrator – each skilled in assisting couples as they commence non-adversarial ways to resolve outstanding issues. 

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process where the mediator (a neutral third party) helps the parties identify the issues in dispute, explore how they might be resolved and, crucially, help them arrive at a mutual agreement. 

The mediator effectively facilitates an environment in which the couple can comfortably discuss out key issues relating to the finances and any children in order to arrive at an agreement. Both parties need separate legal representation, and those solicitors will draft a Financial Remedy Order if a financial settlement on divorce is achieved.

How an agreement on child arrangements is to be recorded will be discussed with you.

There’s no obligation to continue with the process if, for instance, the environment becomes acrimonious – either party can withdraw from the mediation process at any time.

It’s worth bearing in mind that before you make any application to court for proceedings relating to children or for financial remedies, you must attend a mediation information assessment meeting (MIAM). 

The purpose is to help you determine if there are alternative ways to resolve the issues outside of court, so the MIAM is always a good introduction to what mediation is about. 

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is more formal than mediation. It can be an effective option when you cannot reach an agreement on key issues, but you’re keen to avoid expensive and time-consuming court action. 

The parties agree to the appointment of an independent arbitrator who will hear the dispute in private and make a final decision (the award). 

A key benefit of arbitration is that it can be concluded in a matter of days or weeks, compared to litigation which can take years. Importantly, an arbitral award can be enforced both in the UK and abroad if that becomes necessary. 

The process is also more flexible than litigation, with the parties able to have a say in choosing the arbitrator and the procedures which could be adopted.

What’s the difference between mediation and arbitration?

Arbitration is a more formal process than mediation and will involve an Arbitrator’s fee, as well as the lawyer’s fees, for representing you and preparing your case, but it is still cheaper than going to court. 

A key difference between the two is that the outcome of mediation is not binding on the parties, whereas the decision of an arbitrator is. 

There’s also no guarantee that mediation will lead to an agreement, so if you are after a level of certainty about the outcome – perhaps within a relatively short timeframe – we may advise you to consider going down the arbitration route.

Will mediation or arbitration be best for me?

This depends on your individual circumstances. For couples already embroiled in conflict or where the parties’ positions are so opposed that mediation is unsuitable – arbitration could be the most effective way forward.

Our specialist divorce lawyers, which includes expert family mediators, will consider your situation and advise you on the most suitable forum to help you resolve the issues in a quick and cost-effective way. 

Contact our leading divorce lawyer Lisa Pepper for more information on mediation and arbitration, or complete an online enquiry form.

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    • The Osbornes mediation team is excellent and has some good individuals.

      Legal 500 2022

    • David Leadercramer has experienced it all and uses this experience to help guide clients towards the best outcome.

      Legal 500 2022

    • Osbornes has a strong mediation team led by Lisa Pepper. Lisa is a very experienced mediator who often places clients at ease and allows them to discuss very difficult topics. She is empathetic but knows when to be more directive if the clients require.

      Legal 500 2022

    • David Leadercramer is excellent.

      Legal 500 2022

    • Lisa Pepper is one of our go-to mediators. She provides a practical service, supporting clients to conclusion.

      Legal 500 2022

    • Lisa Pepper’s mediation practice is absolutely brilliant. Real value delivered with expert knowledge. Lisa is a first rate mediator.

      Legal 500 2022

    • Lisa Pepper is one of my go to mediators. Her calm, collected attitude and friendly persona allow clients to trust her and open up to her. Excellent service and top level advice.

      Legal 500 2022

    • Lisa Pepper – very down to earth and approachable.

      Legal 500 2022

    • Lisa Pepper is a talented lawyer and we regularly refer to her for mediation

      Legal 500 2022

    • "She is a phenomenal mediator. She is full of insight and is very creative in her solutions."

      Chambers HNW 2021

    • "She has a substantial amount of empathy which she brings to any mediation and she works extremely hard to gain the trust of people. She fully understands how complex financial disputes work and is well versed in dealing with individuals of high net worth."

      Chambers HNW 2021

    • "Lisa Pepper is an outstanding mediator. She is very skilled and has an empathetic and professional approach which is comforting for clients. She never imposes her own view but is even handed and provides helpful guidance to clients so that they can make empowered decisions"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Lisa Pepper has built up a very impressive mediation practice. She is very engaging and easy to relate to. She embodies mediation in the sense that she approaches her case in a very non-judgmental fashion and can quickly gain the confidence of those with whom she is mediating"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Lisa Pepper is a brilliant mediator who produces results. She is effective at resolving matters without the need for the parties to engage in expensive and protracted litigation"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Lisa Pepper is a fantastic mediator. She is fair, robust when she needs to be, and finds a way of facilitating agreements in the hardest of cases. Her guidance is spot on. She has an approachable and constructive mediation style"

      Legal 500 2021

    • Osbornes is known for combining strong legal expertise with a commitment to resolving family matters amicably. This instils a huge amount of trust in any lawyer referring their clients to this mediation team. The team is particularly good at dealing with financial matters.

      Legal 500

    • Lisa Pepper is extremely approachable and this shines through in the outcomes she achieves from mediation. She makes clients feel at ease, which enables them to feel empowered to resolve matters amicably and find a creative outcome which many mediators may have overlooked.

      Legal 500 2020 - Lisa Pepper

    • Lisa Pepper is building a very strong mediation practice at very competitive rates and is able to build a rapport quickly with almost anyone.

      Legal 500 2020 - Lisa Pepper

    • Lisa Pepper loves her work and has a very sensible head on her. That means her practice is thriving and rightly so.

      Legal 500 2020 - Lisa Pepper

    • Lisa Pepper is very thorough in her preparation and has super personal skills to put parties in mediation at ease

      Legal 500 2020 - Lisa Pepper

    • Lisa Pepper – good litigator, very friendly and approachable but tough, “straight bat” with the opposition. Can steer a client deftly to settle when he should.

      Legal 500 2020 - Lisa Pepper

    • Lisa Pepper is particularly recognised for her role as a mediator in complex cross-border disputes. Her practice also includes handling prenuptial agreements and issues arising from the dissolution of civil partnerships.

      Chambers UK

    • "Lisa can handle the large and complicated cases but takes equal care with the smaller cases. She is a highly skilled mediator who is a consummate professional."

      The Legal 500

    • Lisa Pepper is a skilled collaborative lawyer. Her instinct is always to resolve matters without compromising her clients’ interests.

      Legal 500

    • Highly regarded for his experience as a litigation and mediation expertise, Mark Freedman is tenacious and determined. Clients really feel that he is fighting their corner.

      Chambers UK

    • Lisa Pepper is a noted collaborative lawyer, and recently acted successfully on a client's leave to remove application to Australia.

      Legal 500

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