ENEs ("early neutral evaluation) and Private FDRs are out-of-court, private hearings, at which a judge/evaluator gives a view on the likely outcome of the case to assist the parties in reaching an agreement. The judge/evaluator is privately appointed by the parties.

Their view is not binding, however these private hearings can be highly effective in enabling people to reach an early settlement.

Early Neutral Evaluation and Private FDRs

An Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) or a Private Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (FDR) can be a very useful way to achieve an early resolution of issues upon divorce or separation. Private FDRs are used in the resolution of financial issues, whilst ENE is used in children cases.

At a private FDR or Early Neutral Evaluation or private FDR, the private FDR judge or early neutral evaluator hears submissions from each party as to how they see their case, before giving an indication as to what he or she thinks would be an appropriate outcome.

This indication is not binding but, on the basis that the private FDR judge/evaluator is jointly appointed, the parties will need to think carefully before disregarding it.

Advantages of the process

  • The private FDR or ENE can take place at any time before court proceedings are started - or at any stage during the court process. This is particularly valuable given the significant delays in the court process at present.
  • The parties choose a private FDR judge/ evaluator in whom they and their lawyers have confidence. You can also choose where you would like the private FDR/evaluation to take place.
  • The private FDR/ evaluator will have had the opportunity to read the papers and prepare for the occasion. Sometimes, in a court-based FDR or other dispute resolution hearing in court, the judge will have little time to read the papers, which can mean their input might be less effective
  • The private FDR or ENE can deal with all or any aspects of the dispute which the parties wish.

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