The growing willingness of lawyers to exploit the potential of arbitration has been further demonstrated by the creation of new services in family and personal injury law.

London firm Hodge Jones & Allen will this week sign up its first client to a new fixed-fee service for family disputes.

Arbitration as a form of dispute resolution has the backing of Family Division president Sir James Munby (pictured), who urged the profession to acknowledge it as the ‘obvious starting point’ to resolve financial problems and avoid going to court. Speaking at a launch event for the new service, Munby said: ‘My only sorrow is thus far we have not had… exponential growth [in arbitration].’

The Gazette can also reveal that an arbitration service for personal injury and clinical negligence cases, PIcARBS, is ready to open in April.

The not-for-profit service, created by barrister Andrew Ritchie QC, has taken a year to bring to market.

Ritchie explained that cases will have fixed costs and be arbitrated by experienced personal injury QCs. He is aiming to resolve between 30 and 50 cases in the first year and eventually secure around 10% of the litigation market.

The service has the advantage of not requiring costs budgeting or case management conferences, with all documents submitted through e-filing. Claimants and defendants will be required to agree hourly rates before going to arbitration and the process can be undertaken in solicitors’ offices.

The potential 5% fee for all civil litigation claims worth more than £10,000 – likely to come into force in April – is another boon to the future of arbitration, said Ritchie.

He added: ‘It is time for a change from cumbersome civil litigation – a change from an expensive, slow, inefficient, heavy-handed system which encourages lack of co-operation. It is time for the parties, the insurers and the injured to co-operate again.’