What happens if my Financial Dispute Hearing is adjourned due to Covid-19?

27th March 2020

Given the effects of Covid-19, you may be facing the prospect of your long-awaited Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) Hearing becoming adjourned until a later date.

Courts are moving to telephone and video hearings and I’ve written about this here. Courts are currently taking their time making decisions about hearings, which is entirely understandable given the huge wave of demand for remote hearings. We must all be patient with the system during this crisis.

But even though hearings are still going ahead, there is no way of knowing whether your case will be adjourned to two weeks’ time or in three months’ time. You will only know when the Judge who is to hear your case has given directions, which is done on a case by case basis.

Are there any other alternatives to an FDR hearing open to me?

You may wish to consider a private FDR Hearing. A hearing like this would be heard away from Court by telephone. The hearing would not be in front of a Judge in the most traditional sense. Instead, the hearing would be chaired by a neutral party, known as a Mediator. Mediators can be Solicitors, Barristers or retired Judges. The Mediator must not have had any dealings with your financial proceedings to date. This means you should not ask your instructed solicitor to chair the private FDR because they will not be able to do so. Approach another firm instead. All parties to the FDR remain the same.

You should approach a private FDR in the same way as if you were attending a formal Court setting. Both parties should exchange well-considered Without Prejudice offers prior to the FDR. On the day, you should have a strategy for negotiating and firm final offers prepared. The fact that the FDR is not heard in front of a Judge does not mean that the negotiations will not reach a valid settlement. Therefore both parties should be ready to take the day seriously.

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