Financial dispute resolution (FDR)
The FDR is the stage at which most cases settle. It is a special type of hearing which is focused on achieving a negotiated settlement between the parties.
An FDR hearing takes place on a “without prejudice” basis, meaning that things that are said there cannot be mentioned again in court proceedings. The judge who oversees it will also play no further part in your case.
At the hearing, each party puts forward their case and their proposals for settlement before the judge. The judge then gives an indication of what he or she would order if it came to a final hearing. This is not a binding decision, but rather a useful neutral evaluation of each party’s cases. The parties then use the rest of the day to negotiate around what the judge has indicated.
Prior to the FDR, it is important to have a full picture of what assets are on the table. Where a party has failed to produce the disclosure required of them, the other may have to do a lot of this research themselves. Vardags’ in-house corporate team are very experienced and effective at this – using land registries and corporate information to put together complex international asset trails.
In order to know what deal to do, it is necessary to know what assets are worth. For cash and investments, this is straightforward. Where assets are harder to value, for example houses, companies or trusts, expert evidence may be required.
The court will often ordered that expert valuations be produced ahead of the FDR. This will be done, generally, by the parties jointly instructing an expert. This expert will report to the court, rather than either side and will use their professional expertise to create an accurate valuation of the assets for use in proceedings.
Vardags have established links with a wide range of expert valuers, and can help you find the most appropriate valuer for your case. Should you want to dispute the expert’s valuation, it is possible, but you are likely to benefit from legal advice in such cases.
Negotiations and without prejudice offers, including provision for children
A “without prejudice” offer is one which cannot be shown to the court. This means that you can try to compromise the case without weakening your position should things be contested all the way to a final hearing.
Such offers can be made at any point in proceedings, but are a special feature of the FDR. All offers at the FDR are without prejudice, and so your case is not weakened by trying to bring proceedings to an end with a generous offer.
At the FDR it is possible to agree all aspects of the case, including provision for the children. It is important to remember, however, that after 12 months either party can apply to the Child Support Agency for a new calculation.