Arbitration Costs

_MG_5336This section deals with what we charge for our arbitration service.

There is a separate page which deals with how the costs of arbitration may be apportioned between parties.

The default position is that each party will pay one half of the total costs of the arbitrator/arbitration. Each will be responsible for their own legal costs.

What do we charge?

Our charges are based upon Ian Walker’s normal hourly charging rate of £160 plus VAT per hour. In other words – £80 plus VAT per person per hour.

Costs will vary significantly depending upon whether a paper based arbitration is appropriate and chosen or whether there is an arbitration hearing.

Paper Based Arbitration

The costs will include time spent on the following:

  • Considering the parties outlines of what they are seeking and why and then making directions for the filing of evidence. This could include a telephone conference.
  • Drafting and sending the directions order to the parties. Sending to the parties template orders and dealing with any queries.
  • Checking statements and documents from the parties upon receipt. Dealing with any queries from the parties.
  • Once all of the evidence is in – reading it thoroughly.
  • Either making a determination or requesting additional information from one or both parties.
  • If it is apparent that a paper-based arbitration appears no longer viable – and that a hearing may be required then arranging a further telephone conference.
  • If the evidence has been submitted and no significant issues arise then writing up the determination. This can take longer than you might think to prepare.
  • Sending out the determination. Responding to any final queries.

This is more than a couple of hours work.

If the issue to be arbitrated is straightforward then It may be possible to get through all the above in around five – eight hours.That’s £400 – £640 plus VAT per person. There may be an additional charge for the cost of any telephone conferencing.

Arbitration Hearing

The costs will inevitably be greater.In addition to the above costs may include:

  • Any initial telephone conference is likely to be longer – as the issues are likely to be more involved.
  • There maybe costs through the appointment of an Independent Social Worker.
  • The arbitrator will need to liaise with the parties/parties representatives to make sure that the arbitration hearing is on track to go ahead following the filing of evidence.
  • There may be travel time to the venue of the arbitration hearing and there could be room hire costs depending upon where that venue is.
  • It will in likelihood take longer to write up the determination at the end of the arbitration.

Realistically the costs could be from around £1000  – £2000 plus VAT per person for the arbitrators time.

If I am travelling out of area, my lower base hourly charging rate could mean that it may well be cheaper to instruct me to hold an arbitration hearing in the Home Counties/London.

The cost of an independent social worker to prepare a report would depend upon how involved the issues were. We would locate an independent social worker within a reasonable proximity to where the family live. The overall cost would depend upon whether they needed to attend the arbitration hearing. You would probably be looking at costs based on hourly rate of around £50 plus VAT per hour – so perhaps up to around £250 each for a report.

How Does This Compare to Going to Court?

After paying a fee for a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting – MIAM and the Court Fee – there is potentially no cost if you go to court – if you are unrepresented.

After paying the Court Fee – the judges time is free. There is no charge made for the services of Cafcass.

However it is very often not as simple as that.

If the court process does not settle there will be 2/3 hearings before a final decision is made. Normally three if Cafcass are asked to prepare a report.

If you have legal representation all the way along – barristers and solicitors – you could easily end up with costs of between £10,000 plus VAT – £20,000 plus VAT depending upon how complicated the cases and how much time is needed at the final hearing.

Sometimes parties start with our representation but then become worried when they are way out of their comfort zone and instruct a solicitor later on. Other times parties will instruct a solicitor and then run out of money.(When I am acting as a solicitor in this situation I start off by asking what the clients realistic budget is and then think with them about how to stretch this as far as possible to contested proceedings – on the basis that the proceedings do not settle)

A big factor in how costs can escalate is time.

The longer a case takes – inevitably – the higher the costs will be.This is because there will be side disputes. There will be more arguments about interim arrangements. Expensive solicitors letters will pass backwards and forwards…

A good way to keep costs down is to get it finished as quickly as possible.

This is where arbitration can ultimately end up cheaper. A paper arbitration is potentially very inexpensive compared to the alternative. But appointing an arbitrator and an independent social worker in anticipation of an attended arbitration hearing can be much cheaper than going to court. This is because there will be perhaps to telephone conferences and one hearing and the process will conclude in weeks rather than months.

But time doesn’t just save money. It saves uncertainty and anguish. The court has to prioritise cases where there are significant safety issues. There can be long delays. Arbitration really is a genuine option for parents who want certainty – but who really cannot agree.