8 YEARS ON, LONDON FAMILY LAWYERS
CELEBRATE THE SUCCESS OF COLLABORATIVE LAW
AND ENTHUSIASTICALLY RESPOND TO RECOMMENDATIONS
OF THE RECENT FAMILY JUSTICE REVIEW
KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT
THE RT HON THE LORD WILSON OF CULWORTH
THE REFORM CLUB
TUESDAY 29 NOVEMBER 2011 AT 6PM
Two hundred of London’s leading family lawyers, Judges and other family professionals will gather at The Reform Club on 29 November 2011 to celebrate the success of collaborative law in London and to hear an address by Lord Wilson, former Judge of the Family Division at the High Court and of the Court of Appeal, who was sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court on 1 May 2011.
As the Family Justice Review published on 3rd October 2011 pointed out, arrangements that are imposed on separating couples by a Court may be inflexible and may sooner or later fail and people should therefore be enabled to resolve their disputes outside Court wherever possible. This is precisely the objective of Collaborative Family Law which offers mediation and other forms of Dispute Resolution as well as Collaborative Law.
At the launch of Collaborative Family Law (formerly Central London Collaborative Forum) on 3rd October 2007 Mr Justice Coleridge referred to our existing family Court procedures stating “I am convinced that our present methods are out of date, expensive, uncivilised and inefficient. I wish I was at the Bar now. I would force every client to consider an engage in this new process before embarking on the old fashioned “trial by battle” approach”.
We at Collaborative Family Law have responded to the Family Justice Review’s challenge mindful as we are of the fact that conflict resolution starts in the family. Children learn how to resolve conflict within the family environment. It follows that how conflict is managed on divorce or any family dispute will have a profound effect on how children deal with conflict later in life. Collaborative practice and other forms of Dispute Resolution in family law, offer a “no Court” process which aims to minimise conflict, allowing couples to achieve civilised, cost-efficient, and child-centred solutions.
The members of Collaborative Family Law are representative of a growing number of leading family lawyers who are committed to cutting out the bitterness of traditional adversarial family proceedings divorce through the innovative collaborative law process and other Dispute Resolution processes which may be appropriate to the client and the family’s needs.
At a time when many family practitioners are calling for law reform, when the Family Justice System is under-funded, when the Courts are struggling to cope with a depressing deluge in family work and when Court delays are worrying, the collaborative process presents a constructive, quicker and more cost effective alternative to an adversarial system which is simply not working for many families.
Collaborative law cuts out the courts, and relies instead on a couple dealing with their break-up in a practical manner through co-operative and respectful negotiation.
Viewed with scepticism by some on its arrival in the UK eight years ago, collaborative law is now an established part of the legal landscape and is increasingly the option of choice for those contemplating divorce or separation.
High profile collaborative divorces such as the actor, Robin Williams’ illustrate that the process is as suited to celebrity and high net worth cases as it is to ordinary middle income divorce. It offers clients absolute privacy, something which is no longer available in the family courts.
Who we are
The Collaborative Family Law group is made up of leading lawyers, senior solicitors, leading Counsel and – uniquely – a retired High Court Judge. All are Fellows of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a worldwide network of leading specialists in divorce and family law. Whilst Collaborative Family Law’s membership is drawn from the whole of the UK (with one member in Paris), all of us maintain a Central London practice. We have unique expertise in helping families, in divorce cases or when couples separate.
- We are all trained as collaborative lawyers, and many of us are trained in other types of Dispute Resolution.
- We are all members of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (http://www.iaml.org/), a worldwide organisation of family specialists.
- All of us are experienced in handling complex cases, and cases involving families with international connections.
The Family Justice Review recommended the establishment of an online information hub and helpline to give support for couples and help them resolve issues following divorce or separation outside Court. The members of Collaborative Family Law are anticipating – and providing a lead – in supplying the public with good quality information about Dispute Resolution in exactly the way David Norgrove, the Chairman of the Family Justice Review, recommended, with good quality video and information, across the widest range possible.
This website will help those contemplating separation or divorce to choose the right method of Dispute Resolution and choose the right person to help.
Quotes from members of Collaborative Family Law
William Longrigg of Charles Russell said: “There is clearly a demand for a non combative process from many clients. Family Dispute Resolution services, particularly the collaborative approach, are extremely well thought out and, together with other family Dispute Resolution services, are extremely well thought out and provide excellent and attractive alternatives to traditional Court driven litigation”.
Emma Hatley of Stewarts said: “Collaborative practice and other forms of ADR in family law, embrace a paradigm shift from the classic practice of family law. The members of the Collaborative Family Law encourage clients to engage in a process specifically designed to eliminate the bitterness, rivalry, hostility and sense of “winners” and “losers” that plagues the traditional Court centred alternatives”.
James Stewart of Manches said: “We have now lived with the experience of widespread family breakdown for a generation – as the Family Justice Review has recognised, the time is ripe for a fresh approach”.
He added: “Research has shown that family disputes properly and sensitively resolved and managed have much less harmful effects, especially and most importantly on the children involved. Collaborative law draws a line under the destructive approach of the past and is a powerful tool which enables clients to adopt a practical, cost effective and child centred approach to divorce”.
Maggie Rae of Clintons said: “Collaborative Law is a necessary response by family law practitioners to the massive increase in family breakdown combined with the ever more restricted availability of public funds to assist with legal costs, to build new courts and hire more Judges. Additionally Collaborative Law and other family Dispute Resolution services offer separating couples the opportunity of resolving outstanding issues in a civilised and cost-effective manner."
Roger Bamber of Mills & Reeve said: “The collaborative process involves parties and lawyers working together to help the parties arrive at an agreement in non judgmental, non accusatory terms. This not only produces agreement without a Court imposing decisions on the family, but tends to produce better relationships for the future.
Suzanne Kingston of Withers said: “We are increasingly seeing a shift away from “old fashioned” divorce as couples look to avoid the bitterness, publicity and costs that so often accompany the “trial by battle” approach. Many of London’s lawyers have now embraced collaborative law and are encouraging their clients to consider this alternative to enable them to separate on a more amicable and child focused basis. The collaborative process is also being supported at the highest level by the judiciary.”