Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment is the second Court hearing in Financial Provisional proceedings. The FDR is listed once all of the documents have been filed and the parties have a clear idea of what the assets are in the case.
Prior to an FDR each party must put forward proposals of settlement and these are open proposals so that the Judge can see each party’s offer of settlement.
At the FDR hearing, the Judge hears from each party who sets out their case and why they think their offer is the most appropriate. The Judge considers the two offers and the case in general and then will give an indication as to what he or she thinks is a reasonable settlement taking all the factors into account. This may be in respect of all of the settlement or it may be in relation to issues which the parties cannot agree on. An indication from the Judge is usually very helpful and most cases will settle at an FDR. Although the matter is listed for one hour of the Judge’s time, often the parties are at Court all day going backwards and forwards on negotiations and the Judge is there to assist on issues that may arise.
FDRs are an excellent way of trying to resolve matters without it going to a Final hearing and the Judge imposing a decision on the parties. When FDRs are listed through the Court, there are often half a dozen other FDRs all listed at the same time. This can mean a long wait to get before the Judge and it can sometimes mean that the Judge does not have as much time as he or she would like to be able to delve into the final details of the case.
It is often the case that you are waiting many months for the Court to list the matter for an FDR. It is not unusual for this to be in excess of four to six months following the First Appointment.
It is possible to have a Private FDR. The Courts encourage this and will do all they can to ensure the parties to settle outside of the Court system.
The parties need to agree that a Private FDR is the most appropriate and then a “Judge” needs to be found for the Private FDR. It does not have to be a Judge, although it often is. It could be a senior barrister, a Judge sitting outside of the Court system or a senior solicitor. The parties will generally meet the costs of the Judge equally and a venue, often at the barrister’s chambers, is agreed and booked. The matter then proceeds to an FDR as it would in Court.
The advantage of a Private FDR is that they take place much sooner than waiting for the Court to list the matter. The Judge will only have the one case in front of him or her that day and is able to spend more time assisting the parties in coming to an agreement. The papers will be sent to the Judge in advance and the Judge will have the time to read all of the papers and ask questions in advance of the FDR for example, if he or she requires any further information.
Private FDRs are becoming very popular and lawyers are seeing advantages to the clients of shortening the Court waiting lists.