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Dispute Resolution

Early Neutral Evaluation: an alternative form of dispute resolution.

What is Early Neutral Evaluation?

Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is designed to help parties avoid going to court. It is an alternative way of resolving a legal dispute. The huge benefit of ENE is that it is suitable for direct access, which means that individuals can utilise the services of a barrister without being represented by a solicitor. Equally, it can be a useful tool for settlement when parties to a dispute have already instructed solicitors.
Our barristers are able to offer an independent legal view jointly to you and the other side in your dispute. We can often save you time and money. ENE is ‘early’ because both sides get advice before much money is spent and it’s ‘neutral’ because the barrister takes a look from an independent standpoint. It has good rates of success because both parties receive the same realistic advice at the same time from an expert who is independent of them both.

You may have heard of ‘mediation’ as an alternative to actually taking a case to court. Lots of mediation options do not provide the parties with an indication as to what might happen in court. Some mediation processes can end up being costly and unproductive. For example, the parties may be too far apart in their positions, or they may disagree about the law or the importance of evidence that they hold. That is where ENE can help.

ENE involves a neutral, independent person, such as a barrister or judge, with specialist knowledge of the law and court experience dealing with similar cases to the specific dispute in question. That person will look carefully at the documents from each party and will listen to any points each party wishes to make. They will then evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case. The evaluator will then be able to provide an indication of what is likely to happen if the case were to proceed to court and the range of possibilities. The indication can be provided in discussion with the parties together and in writing.

The process is not binding which means that neither party has to accept the guidance or evaluation provided. If settlement is not reached, the discussions and advice will be confidential and cannot be referred to again by either party.

By receiving ENE guidance early in the negotiation process, the parties will be better informed and more likely to reach a settlement, avoiding the need for often lengthy and costly litigation.

Which types of disputes are suitable?

ENE can be used for all types of civil disputes from contract or debt claims, to leasehold or trust of land/TOLATA disputes, including disagreements over beneficial interests in a property, or the need to sell and distribute proceeds.

ENE is also effective in family cases, relating to both children and family finances. An ENE can provide an indication in relation to with whom children should live and the contact they should have with the other parent. It is particularly useful in providing divorcing couples with realistic advice about separating their finances.

How does it work? What does it cost?

Guildford Chambers has a short questionnaire that we will send out to both parties to obtain sufficient information to assess whether the case is suitable and provide a quote specific to your case. Prices start from £600 + VAT per person.

We will then guide parties through the process to determine whether the evaluation will be completed on the paperwork, or by way of a joint meeting. For present purposes, this would be carried out remotely and we can cater to a wide range of apps to suit most preferences, including Teams, Zoom or Skype.

For initial advice on whether your dispute might benefit from ENE, please speak to Simon or Gavin on 01483-539131 or email clerks@guildfordchambers.com

Written opinion and conferences

A written opinion or a conference with a barrister can provide you with formal advice to assist you in formulating a way forward and achieving a settlement. We can do this through an instruction from your solicitor or by acting directly for you.

The advice can be provided right at the outset, before any legal proceedings. This may help you to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation and to achieve a swift settlement. It can also be provided at any time during proceedings, to give you a realistic view of the likely outcome of the case. This may be particularly useful if you wish to make an offer of settlement or have received one from the other party to your dispute. The advice is confidential to you and it does not have to be shared with anyone.

A written opinion or a conference will be undertaken by a barrister with specialist knowledge of the law and court experience dealing with similar cases to the specific dispute in question. That person will look carefully at the documents provided by you and take into account the points you wish to make. They will then evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case and provide an indication of what is likely to happen if the case were to proceed to court and the range of possibilities.

For present purposes, a conference would be carried out remotely and we can cater to a wide range of apps to suit most preferences, including Teams, Zoom or Skype.
Prices start from £125 + VAT per hour and fixed fee packages can be agreed.

For initial advice on whether we can help, please speak to Simon or Gavin on 01483-539131 or email clerks@guildfordchambers.com

Negotiation

Do you want to negotiate with the other party to your dispute and achieve a quick settlement without having to go to court? If so, we can undertake a negotiation for you. We are able to do so based on instructions from your solicitor, if you have one, or we can act directly for you.

Each side is separately represented by a barrister from within Guildford Chambers, who is an expert in the particular legal areas of the case. That barrister would provide their client with realistic advice about the likely outcome of the case. The advice would not be shared with the other side.

A date would then be fixed for a half or full day negotiation, which would be conducted between the barristers and the parties, with a view to settling the case by agreement. For present purposes, a conference would be carried out remotely and we can cater to a wide range of apps to suit most preferences, including Teams, Zoom or Skype.

Prices start from £125 + VAT per hour and fixed fee packages can be agreed.

For initial advice on whether we can help, please speak to Simon or Gavin on 01483-539131 or email clerks@guildfordchambers.com

Drafting agreements

Have you reached an agreement with your spouse, business party or any other party to a dispute.? If so, we recommend that you formalise the agreement. We can draft an agreement for your or prepare an order to be submitted to the court for approval.

Prices for drafting start from £250 +VAT.