Private FRD's

Early Neutral Evaluation or Private Financial Dispute Resolution Meetings

Early Neutral Evaluation is an established process in court, in relation to both financial remedy applications (where there will be a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing) and children disputes (where there will be a Dispute Resolution Hearing). At both these hearings, which are held prior to the listing of a contested final trial hearing, a judge will give the parties guidance as to his or her view and thoughts of the likely outcome in the case, in the event that case was to proceed to final trial. This is to encourage and facilitate settlement of some or all of the outstanding issues. This process is aimed at attempting to avoid a final trial which can be lengthy and at times very expensive. The aim is to save costs, and reduce delay and stress for the parties.

In essence an Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) also often referred to as a Private Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing (PFDR) is a process conducted by an experienced Solicitor/Barrister or Deputy District Judge. It is a process in which the Solicitor/Barrister or Deputy District Judge can provide a calculated indication, in some detail, depending on the disclosure provided by the parties, as to the very likely outcome of the case if this was to proceed to trial and be adjudicated by the Court. These meetings are also sometimes referred to as ‘Private Judging’.

The advantage of having an ENE or PFDR is that it saves costs of proceeding to a final trial. These costs can become prohibitive and are usually very high as they include all the costs of preparation for final trial. Using ENE or PFDR saves, time, money and the delays of waiting for the Courts to provide final trial listings. This apart the parties save the hostility and alienation that will arise if matters proceed to a final hearing. It is much more acceptable between the parties to reach agreement once they have received an indication of the likely outcome of the case from an experienced Solicitor/Barrister or Deputy District Judge who remains impartial throughout the process.

All ENE or PFDR meetings between the parties are privileged and conducted on a without prejudice basis. As a consequence this means that the meetings are not binding on the parties and may not be referred to or relied on at any subsequent Court proceedings.

All ENE/PFDR meetings are modelled on the in court FDR hearing, financial dispute resolution, at which the judge is required by the rules to predict what, would happen if the matter was to proceed to a final hearing.  These types of hearings are very successful at settling cases. They have their limitations.  In the Court process there is only a limited amount of time which the judge can commit and the hearing is set in a Court room. The parties have no choice of a judge who is selected by the Court office. ENE/PFDR meetings allow the parties to select a particularly experienced Solicitor/Barrister or Deputy District Judge to conduct the meeting.

Lovell at Lovell Chohan Solicitors is an exceptionally talented and experienced Solicitor and Deputy District Judge who has dealt with numerous FDR and Final Court hearings since his appointment as a Deputy District Judge in April 2002. Not only this Lovell deals with, almost exclusively, Private Law Children and Financial Remedy cases through his private practice at Lovell Chohan Solicitors.

Lovell has the ability to evaluate the parties’ positions and taking into account the evidence, law and procedure he is able to provide accurate likely outcome of cases if they were to proceed to trial. This has on numerous cases led to financial settlements between the parties. Lovell has conducted numerous FDR and final financial remedy hearings in County Courts all over the South East sitting as a Deputy District Judge for the last 16 years and therefore has established a very comprehensive knowledge of dealing with FDRs and final hearings.

Lovell’s accreditations are as follows:

  • Appointed as a Deputy District Judge April 2002
  • Accredited Police Station Representative
  • Resolution Accredited Collaborative Lawyer
  • Accredited ADRg Civil & Commercial Mediator
  • Accredited ADRg Family Mediator
  • Accredited ADRg Work Place Mediator
  • Accredited Resolution Member specialising in domestic violence & Children
  • Accredited Law Society Family Law Panel Member
  • Accredited Law Society Family Law Advanced Member
  • Accredited Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • Accredited Member of the Association of Children Lawyers
  • Member of the Employment Lawyers Association

In setting up a meeting the Parties are usually required to provide the Practice Documents that they would be required to provide the Court on an FDR as if the matter was proceeding through the Court.

Further information may be obtained from Lovell Chohan, including fixed fee schemes on lovell@lovellchohan.com