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Arbitration - How Paul Hollywood and His Wife Kept His Divorce Financial Settlement Out of Court

View profile for John Boon
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Newspapers are reporting that Paul Hollywood, of The Great British Bake-Off fame, has chosen to settle his divorce financial matters out of court. 

He and his wife have chosen to use a process called family arbitration. There will be several advantages to them as a result, which we set out below.

What is arbitration?

In arbitration, the couple appoint somebody jointly as their arbitrator. This person is typically a specially trained senior family lawyer, barrister or retired judge.

The arbitrator still hears the legal arguments and decides what the outcome will be, like a judge. A formal court order is then drawn up and filed to reflect the arbitration decision and make it binding.

Five advantages to using family arbitration instead of the court process

  • Privacy: Arbitration hearings are entirely private. While most court hearings are held in private, the details about when and where the hearings are to take place will often still be public information.
  • Speed: It can take nine to 24 months to resolve matrimonial financial proceedings through the courts, depending upon the complexity of the case and the availability of court time. It is possible to shorten that time scale, often dramatically so, by using arbitration, which can fit in more easily with everybody’s diaries.
  • Flexibility: The couple, together with the arbitrator, have much more control of the arbitration process. They can change the time that the arbitration appointments take place, as well as location. If everybody wants to have an appointment outside of the typical court hours of 10-4, then they can do so.  If they want to meet in a comfortable conference suite, with refreshments, they can do so. They can also agree to limit or increase what evidence and other information is going to be required and the time to be allowed for exchanging it.
  • Choice of arbitrator: Every judge and arbitrator is different. You have no choice as to which judge will hear your case in court. You can, however, agree who to appoint as your arbitrator. 
  • Costs: You can expect the total cost of going through an arbitration process to be lower than the costs of resolving matters through court. This is a result of the arbitration being quicker and more flexible.