19th Mar 2021

The new Collaborative Participation Agreement is LIVE

By James Pirrie

The new Collaborative Participation Agreement is LIVE

A note by FLiP Director James Pirrie on the new Collaborative Participation Agreement.

… and it sent me on a wander back through the museum of old documents on our server.

Strangely the first letter was exactly eighteen years ago, a note to Rosemary Polack discussing our plans to bring a trainer over from the United States, to offer this new way of working to a profession, grown in a soil that we knew would make it want to grab the model with both hands …

And a little under 800 invitations later, and under a banner of “law without litigation, mediation with advice” twenty of us gathered in Covent Garden at the end of September 2003 for the first training in Europe …

How can we resist to list the names (I do hope I have not missed anyone):

Rachel Wingert, Renaissance Chambers
Kim Beatson, Anthony Gold
Oliver Gravell, Birketts
Maeve O’Higgins, Edward Fail Bradshaw & Waterson
Elizabeth Muirhead, Elizabeth Muirhead
Gilly Bloom, Kingsley Napley
Charlotte Bradley, Kingsley Napley
Kerry Fretwell Manches
Roger Bamber, Mills & Reeves
James Stewart, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain
Therese Nichols, Russell-Cooke
Rosemary Polack
Muriel Walls
Angela Lake-Carroll, Legal Services Commission
Jenny Franklin
David Burrows
Gillian Bishop
Florence Terry
James Pirrie
David Allison
Ruth Smallacombe


And then straight off to Vancouver (Charlotte Bradley, James Stewart, Ruth Smallacombe and me) for the movement’s annual conference.  All early and inspirational days, filled with passionate certainties and naïve expectations that always seem to accompany a movement’s finding its feet.

And some time later, back to announce “Collaborative Law has Arrived”, adding “its use should extend along a large part of the continuum of cases that reach us in our professional lives, but more importantly start to bring in part of a larger well of clients that for various reasons, avoid going anywhere near the professional’s office for fear of what may carry them away.”

Our first draft participation agreement seems to have had firmly as the parties “husband” and “wife” [painful to read – but forgive us for reflecting the different times!]  before pages of lawyerly wordsmithing.

How I wish we could have generated then what has emerged from Resolution this week … an agreement which operates as part explanatory note, part enthusiasm builder, part ‘next steps’ but setting out clearly the rules along the way.  Fortunately my latest collab has had its first meeting delayed – I can imagine stronger foundations, faster clearer uptake and better progress all coming from this brilliant piece of work – no more bogged down in the schedules we drafted with far too much of “yes don’t worry about that too much right now”.

Special mention for Angela Lake-Carroll, who we read has had a major hand in it.  There at the beginning as we saw above – and still at the coal-face making great things better for all of us, all these years later.

A wonderful job.  Thank you!

And where WILL we be finding ourselves in March 2039, I wonder?

The team at FLiP pioneered the use of the collaborative approach in the UK and our lawyers are widely acknowledged to be expert in this field. Family Law in Partnership is “one of the most skilled proponents of collaborative law”” The Legal 500 UK 2016.

We have a large team of experienced collaborative practitioners. For more information contact us below.