Negotiation as a means of achieving a settlement

For many years, responsible family solicitors have sought to achieve an outcome for their client by constructive and non-confrontational methods.

Generally, negotiation should be explored before embarking upon court proceedings. It is a way to have your say and propose what you feel is the best outcome. You need to bear in mind that the other party will do the same and your objectives may not align. Therefore it is always best to be mindful of competing arguments and how best to counter those or be open to concede on points which are not of primary concern.

Negotiation can take place directly between you by all forms of communication such as face-to-face, over the telephone, text message or email. This can be useful to narrow the issues.

Sometimes however, you may not feel able or willing to liaise with your ex-partner in this way. It can also be beneficial therefore to negotiate via your legal representative who will not only provide the requisite legal advice but can offer support and signpost you to other professionals which may be crucial in your case.

Third party professionals include your GP, coaches, accountants, financial planners or tax experts.

Negotiation through lawyers can take place via traditional methods such as correspondence and over the telephone or in a ‘round table meeting’. Whilst being in the same room can be very powerful in terms of hearing the other side’s point of view, you do not have to. More commonly, the parties are gathered in the same building, with the solicitors negotiating face to face and taking time out to seek instructions from their respective clients as the negotiations progress.

Negotiation offers several advantages compared to court proceedings and other forms of dispute resolution. These include:


You can decide what is addressed and negotiated on.


The parties have greater control over the process and can decide what to provide and when.


Court proceedings are often a costly and difficult process. The autonomy of negotiation also allows the parties to conclude matters between themselves without having to pay expensive court fees. In comparison to other dispute resolution processes such as arbitration or mediation, the outcome of negotiation is reached without involving a neutral third party. This can make the process more flexible and cost effective.


The parties are in control of the speed at which negotiations progress. Since timetabling a negotiation session is not dependant on overburdened court resources and judicial listings, it is often a much quicker dispute resolution process, compared to court proceedings.


All discussions that take place with your lawyer are privileged.  Those with the other side could be kept ‘off the record’.

It is important to remember that negotiation is always encouraged and recommended by the courts. Ideally matters will be resolved outside of Court however even if court proceedings are underway, parties are continuously encouraged and provided with the opportunity to negotiate a settlement.

If you would like some further advice on this subject matter, please do not hesitate to contact one of our family team on 0191 226 7878, or at

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