Financial relief , Court proceedings and Roundtable meetings – Is it time to discuss the possibility of ADR with clients?

Divorce & Matrimonial Finance

29 November 2022

At present, clients are facing an overburdened court system. Unfortunately, courts regularly vacate hearings with little notice.

In my experience as a mediator and barrister, I am well aware of how having a lawyer by their side and having a judge make a decision is reassuring for people. This need can obstruct litigants from pursuing a non-court route, also known as Alterative Dispute Resolution [ADR]

I am going to discuss a method of ADR in this article, where a litigant can be supported by their legal representative if they wish. This is by participating in a roundtable meeting.

It is not a novel idea nor is it astonishing, but maybe as lawyers we have to start taking advantage of these alternatives.

I recently had an FDR hearing vacated by the court the day before. Solicitors from both sides convened a round table meeting on the day that a court FDR was scheduled. Costs had been incurred and the clients got the best value for their money. There was one solicitor who offered up their premises. Each party had its own room, and Counsel went back and forth, exactly the same process as in  the court environment.  The day was utilised to negotiate and when an agreement was reached, to a draft order.  The order  was drafted with the benefit of the clients being present with all the benefits this brings.  This approach was cost-effective for the client.

Maybe as lawyers we need to consider the advantages of a round table meeting with clients?

The Advantages of Round Table Meeting

-The cost of updating the financial information for the parties has already been incurred. Using this information prevents the need to update another FDR at further expense.

  • Due to the court’s late cancellation, the clients are most likely to have paid counsel costs. It is therefore beneficial for both parties to benefit from the legal fees they have incurred.
  • A settlement importantly brings to an end to the contested court  proceedings.

– When parties leave with a signed draft consent order it eliminates the need for endless emails and instructions pertaining to small details that always emerge during the drafting process.

-Negotiations can take place at your own pace rather than worrying about when the judge can see you.

– The biggest benefit for the client is that it is cost-effective.

Potential Disadvantage.

– The only disadvantage is if parties are stuck in their positions there is no Judge to give them guidance. Though an agreement may not be reached, the costs have already been incurred, so there is no disadvantage in trying to settle.

For further information about round table meetings please contact myself or my clerks at

For help, advice or if you wish to instruct a member of Chambers, please contact our Clerking team