Resolution welcomes judgment on family arbitration award

News Release

14 Jan 2014

Resolution has welcomed today’s judgment from Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, in the case of S v S, in which he upholds the decision (award) made through a private arbitration. This award was made under the scheme established in England and Wales by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA).

The judgment makes clear that, in the view of the President, “there is no conceptual difference between the parties making an agreement and agreeing to give an arbitrator the power to make the decision for them.”

This means that family arbitration awards effectively hold the same weight as agreements made between parties through mediation or collaborative law.

The President further indicated that the streamlined process, previously applied to orders made under collaborative law should “…be made similarly available in cases where the consent order is the product of an arbitral award under the IFLA Scheme.”

James Pirrie, who acted for one of the parties, and is a member of Resolution’s National Committee, said:

“Anyone involved in family law should welcome this judgment, which highlights the many advantages of arbitration and builds confidence that an arbitrator’s award will help in resolving a dispute.

"In this case, the matter was resolved within eight weeks from the signing of the agreement to arbitrate to the issue of the award, anonymity has been retained, and the costs to both parties are a fraction of what they might have otherwise been.

“It is particularly interesting to note the statement that parties who seek arbitration may have their cases ‘fast tracked’ by the courts in the future. This encourages separating couples to reach agreements themselves, and where this is not possible on financial matters, arbitration is a quick and effective alternative to court.”

Speaking in response to the judgment, Resolution Chair Liz Edwards said:

“Resolution welcomes this latest judgment, which further underlines the crucial role arbitration can play in resolving family disputes.

“I am proud of the role Resolution played in establishing IFLA, and the scheme under which this arbitration was made.

“Resolution has a long track record of pioneering new ways for separating couples to resolve matters without recourse to the courts. This judgment confirms that arbitration is a solution which separating couples and family practitioners alike will find useful.”


Notes to editors:

  • Resolution is a group of over 6,500 family lawyers and professionals in England and Wales. It promotes a non-confrontational, constructive approach to resolving family disputes. To find out more, visit
  • The Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA) is a not for profit organisation, created by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), the Family Law Bar Association, and the family law group Resolution, in association with the Centre for Child and Family Law Reform.
  • IFLA launched the family arbitration scheme for separating couples in England and Wales in April 2012.
  • The judgment – S v S [2014] EWHC 7 (Fam) was issued by Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, on 14 January 2014, in the case of S v S.