High-profile married couples who are splitting up may soon be able to avoid airing their dirty linen in public with the advent of private divorce courts.
From this week the process of arbitration, previously used mainly for commercial disputes, is being opened up to be able to deal with divorces, as well as financial provision for children, property and inheritance issues, claims between unmarried couples and property disputes, The Times reported.
Around 300 former judges and family lawyers have signed up for training and already the first 35 former judges have qualified to adjudicate on such cases.
There is said to be a growing demand for arbitration to be used in family disputes, partly in response to media demands in recent years for greater access to the courts.
It may see couples pay up to £5,000 a day to choose their own judge or arbitrator to obtain a legally-binding decision.
If they can afford it, it would mean that rulings would remain confidential, so that colourful celebrity divorces may be able to remain under wraps.
Two retired judges, Sir Hugh Bennett and Sir Peter Singer, are set to be among the first to offer themselves as arbitrators.
They already both offer couples private hearings in which they advise on what a judge would be likely to award if the matter goes to court.
Sir Hugh told The Times: "Arbitration cannot happen unless all parties consent. It cannot be imposed, unlike litigation.
"The parties, by appointing their arbitrator, choose their 'judge', who will take the arbitration through all its stages."
2012-02-28 18:08 编辑：crystal156