3PB Barristers, the UK’s largest national set of family barristers, has launched a Remote Access FDR (Financial Dispute Resolution) Court Room service for its solicitors and lay clients. The chambers have helpfully produced a4-minute video to explain its new service (link).
The set, which has long delivered FDRs in person, is now offering a ‘digital courtroom’ for family finance disputes with separate conference rooms for the parties and their teams; a separate “chat corridor” for counsel only; and access for the judge.
It is intended that the Remote Access Family Court Room (RAFCOR) will provide guidance for future conduct of the case and the opportunity to advance or settle matters, in the same manner as happens with “face-to-face” FDR hearings.
The success rate at these FDR hearings in recent months has been good. So much so that 3PB’s 70-strong family team feels that its technology-based remote court could be of real benefit to the Family Court, now closed except for telephone or video-supported solutions like this. Many of these FDR family finance cases are now being cancelled as they are deemed not urgent.
This simple-to-use video technology answers the Family Court’s desire to get early resolution to cases if at all possible in these extraordinary times. For you and your client it delivers a productive and worthwhile hearing without the need for expensive and frustrating adjournments.
3PB’s Michael George, the senior family finance barrister who is leading this new service, said: “We think 3PB’s Remote Access Court Room for family finance disputes will prove hugely popular in the next six months whilst courts remain shut. Using chambers range of technology solutions we are able to replicate the rooms required using video conferencing.”
For an informal and confidential discussion on how 3PB’s Remote Access Family Court Room (RAFCOR) service could help you or your lay client, contact:
Robert Leonard firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07500 237 496
Ian Charlton email@example.com or call 07583 336 033
Michael George firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07512 000 001
NOTES TO EDITORS AND CLIENTS:
How 3PB’s Remote Access Family Court Room (RAFCOR) works
3PB’s Remote Access FDR suite has five meeting rooms including:
- The Judge’s chambers,
- The FDR hearing room,
- Separate conference room for the applicant team
- Separate conference room for the respondent team
- The ‘corridor’.
The remote access conference rooms allow for private discussion within a team and the FDR hearing room for hearing of the FDR.
To replicate the face to face FDR dynamic we have added “the judge’s chambers” to allow for advocate-only discussions with the FDR judge. The “corridor” room allows for negotiations between advocates and/or solicitors – these being an essential dynamic of the overall process.
At 3PB we often have members of chambers instructed on different sides of the same case and are well used to maintaining confidentiality between cases.
Security and confidentiality remain essential and we recognise concerns that some systems allow the host to eavesdrop or even join conference rooms uninvited.
To address this concern, in the remote access FDR suite, each room will display who is present in that room at any one time. To further ensure that every participant has confidence, the rooms will not be hosted by either of the legal teams involved in the FDR by and independent specially trained and experienced member of our staff.
In addition, each room will have its own PIN number which will be distributed to the FDR judge, counsel, solicitors, and lay clients prior to the meeting as appropriate so you can be confident that only the host and those with PIN numbers can gain access to your remote meeting room.
We use the Microsoft teams and Lifesize platform which are fully encrypted channels. We realise that not all clients will have this so we have ensured that we can support other platforms as well. No additional software other than an internet browser is needed.
Finally, to enable simple communication across all rooms on the Teams platform, there will be a chat feature to allow messages to be exchanged. By way of example, this could be used to allow the parties to inform the FDR judge that they are ready, or allow one advocate to invite the other to meet them in the corridor room. There is also functionality to upload and share documents and screens.
The court-based FDR process has an excellent track record at bringing disputes to an end quickly and efficiently. Private FDR’s have an even better track record.
Mr Justice Mostyn, national lead judge of the Financial Remedies Courts in the UK, stated that in these new court-closed days, “parties should be encouraged to have their FDRs done privately. Such private FDRs should routinely be done remotely.”
This new innovative system from 3PB is a step change in bringing tried and tested dispute resolution to the remote working environment.
Outcomes of RAFCOR
Anything discussed during the remote hearing will be without prejudice so cannot be referred to at future hearings.
The judge will give guidance as to the likely range of outcomes, potential strengths and weaknesses of each case as viewed on the day and how the parties can move forward and settle their case. If settlement is achieved, heads of agreement are drawn up for a subsequent consent order which will be binding on both parties.
Full details on Michael George and his 70-strong team of family law barristers at 3PB – including his detailed CV – can be found www.3pb.co.uk.