Arbitration has a long history in commercial disputes. Family law arbitration is a relatively new arrival, launched only a couple of years ago. The scheme, run by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators, covers a variety of family financial disputes including those arising from divorce, ownership of a property between cohabiting couples and civil partnership financial claims.
The parties enter into an agreement under which they appoint an arbitrator to adjudicate a dispute and make an award.
Dennis Sheridan has written the first book on this new form of family dispute resolution. His practical guide does not simply appeal to family law arbitrators but to family lawyers generally who might be contemplating referring a matter to arbitration. After all, the Law Society’s Family Law Protocol requires solicitors to advise clients on the various methods of dispute resolution, including arbitration, and indeed to encourage its use.
The author emphasises the many advantages arbitration has over court, including flexibility, confidentiality and speed. The parties can pick their arbitrator, and decide how the arbitration proceeds, and when. Also, the process is private and does not permit the presence of media representatives.
Author: Dennis Sheridan
Publisher: the Law Society (£79.95)
The book conveniently includes as appendices key materials, including the scheme’s rules and the Arbitration Act, together with practical checklists and terms of engagement.
In addition, it features the important judgment of Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division, in S v S  EWHC 7 (Fam), upholding the award made through family arbitration, which the scheme endorses.
This then is an essential guide, which is also accessible and informative for lay clients or litigants in person. Every family law team should buy a copy.
Tony Roe is a family law arbitrator and principal of Tony Roe Divorce & Family Law Solicitors