The International Family Law Arbitration Scheme has a panel of arbitrators to determine forum disputes. The parties may either nominate an arbitrator or may ask the Alternative Courtroom – International (“TAC International”) to nominate one from a shortlist. The daily rate fees of arbitrators who might be considered may be obtained on request from TAC International.
For further details, please see the arbitration rules.
An arbitration may be conducted “on the papers”, which means on the basis of the written materials, or with the benefit of a hearing.
Step 1: Initial Questionnaire
The process begins when one of the parties or their lawyer fills in a brief questionnaire online to provide a brief summary of the issues in the case and, if there needs to be a hearing, what length of time will be needed. The party or the lawyer provides details of the other legal representative and indicates whether the parties have already agreed on an arbitrator.
Step 2: Response
The other party or their lawyer indicates whether he or she agrees with the first person’s statement of issues and the other details such as the length of hearing needed.
Step 3: Arbitrator Allocated
An arbitrator is either agreed by the parties or assigned by TAC International. The arbitrator would be from a country with which neither party asserts they have a close connection. TAC International will approach the arbitrator to determine availability.
Step 4: Agreement Signed
Parties need to sign an agreement for that person to arbitrate and pay an initial fee. Each party may represent himself or herself but must have independent legal advice before entering into the agreement to arbitrate under the Scheme. It is a condition of the Scheme that the parties entering into the agreement agree to be bound by the arbitrator’s decision, and to pay all the costs of the arbitration if they continue to argue a forum dispute in any court contrary to the determination of the arbitrator.
Step 5: Closest Connection Questionnaire
The clients, (assisted by their lawyers as needed) are asked to fill out a detailed IFLAS questionnaire about their personal history and the history of their relationship to help to establish the country with which they have the closest connection. This should be completed within three weeks of the commencement of the arbitration or such other time as may be agreed.
Step 6: Preliminary Conference
The arbitrator conducts a preliminary conference by video-conference, telephone or other means of communication to determine the process and to identify any further evidence that needs to be provided.
Step 7: Hearing / Determination
The arbitrator determines the matter on the papers or conducts a hearing in person, by video-conference or telephone. Any such hearing may be recorded.
Step 8: Decision
The written decision is given within 28 days unless otherwise agreed between the parties and the arbitrator.