One of the stages of a private law children case is the DRA – the Dispute Resolution Appointment – at which a judge (or magistrates) offers his or her ‘early neutral evaluation’ of the likely outcome of the application and seeks to help the parties resolve the issues in dispute or at least narrow them.
With the pressure on courts increasing, cases are taking longer to get a hearing, and judges are being allowed less time to hear and consider them. A DRA will generally be listed with up to 4 or 5 other cases in the list and the judge simply doesn’t have the time to give each case the time and attention it may require. Private law cases are also often vacated at the last minute to accommodate more urgent public law hearings. A private DRA is one answer to these problems. We have a number of members, of different levels of call and experience, appropriate to different types of case, who are regularly instructed to act as a DRA judge in a private setting.
A barrister conducting a private dispute resolution appointment will read and consider the papers properly, hear the parties’ representatives, and give a wholly neutral evaluation of the likely outcome. As the barrister will not be dealing with any other cases that day, they will have the time to give careful and thorough consideration to the issues and provide a nuanced indication. This means that parties to a case can both hear, from an independent expert, what the probable outcome of their case would be at a final hearing. Many people settle their whole case at this point, because both parties then know what they may stand to gain or lose. The savings in terms of time, emotional and legal costs can be substantial – for although the rate of successful settlement at a court DRA is good, it is even better at a private DRA. Private DRAs also offer a guarantee of privacy, and a dedicated DRA judge for the entire day (who will have had ample time to read the case papers) and comfortable conference room facilities and refreshments, which altogether make the process a lot less stressful than a formal court appearance might be.
If you wish to discuss your requirements with one of 1KBW’s Private DRA barristers then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Nicola Cade or another member of our clerking team who will be more than happy to assist with your enquiry.