Private FDR

Ashley can be a private FDR judge to enable parties to secure an early resolution to their financial remedy claims upon divorce which can then be presented in the form of a consent order for the Court’s endorsement – thus avoiding lengthy and costly disputed proceedings.  A fixed fee of £4,000 plus VAT applies subject to conditions, please see below.

If you would like to discuss and/or make the arrangements for doing so please contact Ashley or his clerk by email or telephone on 0151 559 3285.

A Private FDR (or Early Evaluation Hearing)

a) The Court FDR

A Financial Dispute Resolution(‘FDR’) hearing is at the core of the present divorce financial remedy process operated by the Family Court and is the point at which the parties along with their legal teams can with the assistance of the Judge seek to reach a Court approved settlement – thus avoiding the delay and continuing costs engaged by listing the matter for a contested hearing. The Judge on the day considers skeleton documentation relating to the parties’ finances and hears brief submissions from their advocates or themselves if not represented and then that Judge states what outcome he or she would consider to be reasonable.

b) The Disadvantages of the Court FDR

The FDR hearing has proved to be successful in resolving the many such financial remedy disputes before the Court; however:

c) The Private FDR

A Private FDR (or Early Evaluation hearing) is a hearing which takes place outside the Court process before a specialised divorce practitioner or retired Judge of the parties’ choosing and at a venue and time agreed upon by the parties in advance. The parties prepare for the Private FDR hearing in exactly the same way they would do for a Court FDR hearing – although it is likely the process by agreement will be more streamlined and focused than would otherwise be the case before the Court. The only difference is that the parties will be responsible for meeting the hearing fee in advance of the specialist Judge appointed.

In the event that the parties reach a settlement at a Private FDR, then thereafter upon the parties’ joint application the Court will make an order by consent reflecting the terms reached. If the Private FDR is unsuccessful, then the parties will still be able to continue the Court process and have a final contested hearing listed in the standard way.

A Private FDR (or Early Evaluation hearing) having previously been encouraged by the then retiring President of the Family Court and Rules introduced to ensure, where the parties wish there to be such an event, that the Court process will, if already commenced, make agreed directions for the parties to take part in the same – is now actively encouraged by the Court at each hearing attended by the parties and the parties requested to explain the reason for not pursuing an alternative to the Court process – changes to the FPR 2020 have now made unreasonable refusal to explore such alternative Court processes a significant factor in a Court’s eventual determination as to whether either party should pay the costs of financial remedy proceedings upon divorce.

d) The Advantages of the Private FDR

The advantages are that the Private FDR:-

e) The Advantages of a Private FDR by Ashley Murray

The advantages of a Private FDR hearing conducted by Ashley Murray are that :-

a) he was the first barrister on the Northern Circuit over 30 years ago to accept instructions only in divorce financial remedy work and, thereby, has experience of exclusively dealing with such work longer than any current sitting judge, Queens counsel or junior counsel on the Northern Circuit;

b) he has experience of sitting as a Recorder for over 27 years and in 2012 he was uniquely authorised by Peter Jackson J (as he then was) to adjudicate within the Family Court process on divorce financial remedy hearings and appeals from district judges;

c) he has over the last two decades been ranked No 1* junior counsel by the national legal directories for his divorce financial remedy practice and in 2020 was described by Legal 500 as “Godfather of the Northern Circuit for matrimonial finance”;

d) he was the original protagonist and campaigner for the ‘Money Judge’ system operated on the Northern Circuit which he helped instigate in liaison with Ryder LJ and which has now been incorporated into the new Financial Remedy Court;

e) he is co-author of a standard legal textbook dealing with prenuptial agreements;

f) he has lectured within the UK and Australia upon divorce financial remedy and pre and post marital agreement subjects;

g) he has had numerous articles published in the Family Law Journal and elsewhere on financial remedy issues over the last 27 years;

h) he provides regular Updating materials to solicitors and local judges on legal cases and developments.

f) The basis of the Fixed Fee

The level of the reduced period fixed fee of £4,000 plus vat above (subject to the terms of the Private FDR Remote Hearing Agreement attached below) : –

i) the bare FDRs, if already filed,
ii) any questionnaires and replies thereto,
iii) an agreed schedule of up to date net assets and net incomes with any reason for disagreement and alternative figures arising thereby endorsed briefly thereon;
iv) an agreed statement of resolved issues and outstanding issues;
v) an agreed neutral chronology;
vi) copies of any relevant valuations;
vii) copies of any SJE reports
viii) copies of any relevant up to date company accounts and/or trust documents 

ix) copies of any without prejudice offers to settle made by either party;

g) Signed Agreement

The parties and their legal representatives shall each sign a Private FDR Agreement in writing with Ashley Murray Limited for the Private FDR hearing and in any event no later than 14 days before the Private FDR hearing.

Please find attached a sample copy of the draft Private Financial Dispute Resolution (“FDR” – Early Evaluation) Agreement.