Ian Walker - Cases Suitable for ArbitrationNot every children case is suitable to be resolved with the use of arbitration.

We have reproduced below the relevant section from the Children Arbitration Scheme Rules which lists cases which are definitely not suitable to be resolved through arbitration.

Essentially these are cases where:

  • There are international issues
  • There are life-changing or life-threatening medical issues
  • A party lacks mental capacity
  • One of the proposed parties is a minor

In addition to the above cases will not be suitable when there are significant safety issues. These might include:

  • Allegations of serious risk to a child including (but not limited to) where social services have been involved with the family or with a parent.

Cases suitable for arbitration

Although there are cases where arbitration is clearly not suitable – there will be very many cases – if not the majority where arbitration is suitable. These might include:

  • Child arrangements – how much time a child spends with each parent
  • The involvement of new partners and other family members in contact arrangements
  • Change of surname
  • Change of school/decisions on education
  • A parent moving from one part of the country to another

In other words… Most cases.


Family Law Arbitration Children Scheme – Arbitration Rules 2016

Article 2 – Scope of the Children Scheme

2.1 Save as provided by Art.2.2 below, the Children Scheme covers issues between parents (or other persons holding parental responsibility or with a sufficient interest 
in the child’s welfare) which relate to the exercise of parental responsibility or the present or future welfare of the child concerned (including the child’s upbringing, present or future living arrangements, contact and education) and extends but is not limited to matters which could be the subject of an application to the Family Court under section 8 of the Children Act 1989.

2.2The following disputes and issues are not within the scope of the Children Scheme:-

(a) any application under the inherent jurisdiction for the return of a child to England and Wales (‘this jurisdiction’) from a country which is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (‘the 1980 Hague Convention’);

(b) any application for a child’s summary return to this or another jurisdiction under the 1980 Hague Convention;

(c) any application for permanent or temporary removal of a child from this jurisdiction;

(d) any application for the court ‘to examine the question of custody of the child’ under Art.11(7) of Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 after an order of a foreign court on non-return to this jurisdiction made pursuant to Art.13 of the 1980 Hague Convention;

(e) any application for cross-border access within the scope of Art.41 of the said Council Regulation which, if a judgment, would require a court to issue an Annex III Certificate;

(f) any dispute relating to the authorisation of life-changing or life-threatening medical treatment or the progress of such treatment;

(g) any case where a party lacks capacity under the Mental Capacity Act 2005;

(h) any case where any person with parental responsibility for the child or who seeks to be a party to an arbitration under the Children Scheme is a minor;

(i) any case where the child concerned has party status in existing proceedings relating to the same or similar issues, or should in the opinion of the arbitrator be separately represented in the arbitration.

You may have questions such as: What are the different types of Children Arbitration arbitration? What are the arbitration rules and procedures? What are the most important step in arbitration process? Or can arbitration help in family disputes? We have created an FAQ’s page that can help answer those questions.