Solicitor-Led Negotiation & Private FDRs


At FLiP our approach to solicitor–led negotiations and private FDRs is grounded in the core values and beliefs that we exercise throughout our practice. Crucially, we listen to our clients and put their interests first whilst ensuring they stay in control of the process.

As our client we enable you to make informed decisions about how best to resolve matters between you and your former partner. One of the first steps is to identify the process options available and help you to understand the benefits of each.

Whatever the process you choose, we will work with you to find long-lasting solutions, always in partnership.


What is Solicitor-Led Negotiation? →

Solicitor-led negotiation is the process by which a client appoints a solicitor to be the voice through which discussions and settlement negotiations take place. Many clients prefer this arrangement as it means they are not directly involved in the negotiations with their former partner or his/her solicitor, making the experience less confrontational as a result. 

Our experienced team of family lawyers will ensure that your instructions are taken at every step, enabling you to retain control throughout the process. We will provide you with the full range of process options so you are able to make well-informed decisions about what is right for you.

What is a Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearing? →

During the normal course of financial court proceedings, a Judge will list a date for an FDR hearing. An FDR hearing is less formal than other Court hearings. The aim of the hearing is for the Judge to give an indication of what outcome might be ordered at a Final Hearing should the case proceed to that stage. The Judge is therefore seeking to encourage the parties to reach an agreement at the FDR hearing to avoid incurring the unnecessary costs, both financial and emotional, involved in proceeding to a Final Hearing. The discussions that take place at this hearing are ‘privileged’ or private in light of the fact that these conversations taking place in the spirit of negotiation and reveal each parties’ proposed settlement positions.

Crucially, the FDR Judge has no power to make a Financial Order at the hearing other than by consent – that is to say, if the parties can reach an agreement, then the Judge can make an order but otherwise not. Many cases settle at the FDR hearing (or shortly thereafter) as a result of the Judge’s indication and the focused negotiations that take place.

As with most Court hearings, the parties may have to wait many months before they are allocated a date for an FDR hearing. This can unnecessarily and undesirably prolong the process, often leaving the parties in a state of limbo in the interim.

Private FDR hearings/ Early Neutral Evaluation

Given the success rates of FDR hearings at producing an agreement, the parties may opt for a private FDR hearing as an alternative to the court-based hearing, also known as Early Neutral Evaluation. As the name suggests, the FDR is conducted in private by an agreed Judge and at an agreed time. Essentially, this means an agreement can be reached sooner than if the parties had to wait for a court hearing.

There are many advantages to this process option including:

  • Timing and location: The private FDR can be scheduled as soon as practically possible and at a location of the parties’ choice.
  • Judge: The parties will agree which Judge (usually a part-time judge or arbitrator) to appoint. The ability to select the Judge is also crucial as the parties can choose a Judge who has the relevant expertise. An FDR Judge allocated by the court may preside mostly on children related matters, for example, which is undesirable where the case concerns complicated financial matters.
  • Preparation: The elected Judge will have ample time to review the papers in the case and will therefore have a greater understanding of the issues before the parties come together. It is often the case that the Judge at a court-based FDR hearing will only have seen the papers on the morning of the hearing and may not have had time to read all the papers provided.
  • Duration: Unlike a court-based FDR hearing, a private FDR is not time limited so the parties do not have the additional time-pressure they face at court.
  • Issues: the private FDR is not solely limited to financial matters. There is also scope to address matters concerning children.

Where appropriate, we encourage parties to consider private FDRs as an alternative to a Court-based process due to their many advantages. The process can often be cheaper and quicker for the parties (as compared to litigating the matter at Court).

We are happy to discuss whether a private FDR would be appropriate in your case whether your situation concerns financial matters on separation or matters involving your children.


Our Distinctive Approach →

Our team is both collectively and individually recognised for conducting negotiations in a constructive and effective manner. We are widely respected among our peers for our commitment to non-confrontational negotiation although when the situation requires it, we are skilled and determined negotiators.

Part of our distinctive approach involves constantly innovating and finding bespoke solutions for our clients. This starts with helping each client to choose the best process option for their particular case. When opting for solicitor-led negotiation, we will discuss with you the possibility of a private Financial Dispute Resolution hearing or indeed, arbitration as an alternative process option.

Our People


We have some of the very best London divorce lawyers and mediators, along with accomplished arbitrators, family consultants and counsellors. There’s no one better to handle your case.

Team of Family Lawyers Talking

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