Tuesday 24 June 2014 was a significant day for family arbitration. On a pleasant midsummer evening family arbitrators and those supportive of the process descended on the Inner Temple’s Luncheon Room. Also in attendance were luminaries such as the President, Sir James Munby, Sir Peter Singer, HHJ Cryan and a number of other High Court Judges, Circuit Judges, family Silks and leading solicitors. What had brought them together? The publication of Dennis Sheridan’s guide to Family Law Arbitration (published by the Law Society).
Dennis has managed to condense into a mere 16 pages of easy to read commentary everything the family practitioner who has never been involved in an arbitration needs to know in order to commence and then participate in an arbitration. The book also contains all the rules, statutory materials and other essential documents which may need to be referred to or used in preparation for or during an arbitration (including Family Arbitrator’s first meeting checklist).
There is little doubt that one of the main reasons practitioners have not yet enthusiastically embraced arbitration and applied it in their cases is the fear of doing something new and potentially unfamiliar. If lawyers do not feel they know what will happen or what to do they will not expose themselves to potential embarrassment. Dennis’ book should remove that sense of the unknown and the unfamiliar.
It is little wonder that the speeches of the President, Sir Peter Singer and HHJ Cryan rightly praised Dennis’ achievement in writing his book and all expressed the hope that its availability will encourage more lawyers and clients to use the process as an alternative to the courts. Dennis’ own speech eloquently and passionately explained why arbitration is a very attractive alternative to the court. Dennis has kindly provided a copy of his speech which can be read here: Speech 14-06-24 (final).