In an attempt to combat the growing crisis affecting the Scottish justice system exacerbated by the recent round of court closures, including the recent controversial closure of Stonehaven Sheriff Court, a group of experienced local family lawyers have come up with what they believe to be a solution.
Specialist family lawyers, Iain Patience, Shaun George, Anne McTaggart and Judith Meil are amongst twenty eight Advocates and Solicitors in Scotland who have undergone intensive training to become Family Law Arbitrators. Arbitration, although used commonly to resolve commercial disputes, is a relatively new way of resolving disputes involving family law issues.
The Arbitrator is in effect a private judge and although the process is still an adversarial one, it seems that it could have many advantages over the system which court users have had to experience up to now. Clients are guaranteed that the Arbitrator, which they choose and appoint, will be an expert in family law. The process is likely to be much quicker and possibly cheaper. Moreover the venue and way in which the hearing can be dealt with, can be chosen by the clients. Most of all the whole process will be completely confidential.
While it remains to be seen whether this initiative which is fully supported by the Law Society of Scotland will appeal, it seems to have many advantages over the current system, it is refreshing to see that lawyers often the subject of criticism have tried to do something to address the current crisis in our justice system. The organisation has also set up a helpful website www.flagscotland.com for those interested in the arbitration option.