Partner Sharon Kay, as Chair of East Sussex Resolution, organised and presented the annual Dispute Resolution Seminar along with the Chair of West Sussex, Verity Eunson-Hickey.

The popularity of this event has seen delegate numbers increase over the years and apart from having a great line up of speakers, it is an excellent opportunity for DR professionals to get together and share their knowledge and build upon their professional relationships with each other.

This year we were privileged to have HHJ Ahmed as our keynote speaker. Judge Ahmed is also a qualified Arbitrator and therefore gave a great address about how effective Arbitration can be and how by comparison, the courts are simply not equipped to deal with the huge volume of applications that are currently being made.  This led seamlessly to a talk from Julie Stather, Barrister 1COR, Brighton who conducts children arbitrations. Julie gave a great insight into how quick and cost-effective children arbitrations can be, compared to applications that are before the court.

We then had a panel debate with Margaret Heathcote (Resolution Chair), Angela Lake-Carroll (Head of Resolution Standards) and Karen Barham (Resolution DR Committee). Delegates raised lots of queries relating to mediation standards, direct communication with children and numerous other topical issues. It was a lively debate and the panel were really effective at providing the delegates with information. There were also interesting discussions about the pros and cons for mediators that draft Consent Orders.

After lunch we were delighted by a presentation from Annmarie Carvalho. Annmarie focused on lawyer support and how we are affected by our work. Annmarie gave a really useful talk on the various ways in which our clients transfer their emotions and problems onto us and how to best deal with that transference.

We then had a role play of an FDR being conducted before a very busy District Judge, with numerous interruptions by his usher. This was delivered by barristers from 1KBW being led by James Roberts QC who was assisted by Charlotte Hartley, Jennifer Perrins, George Gordon and Millie Benson. The role play had the delegates in hysterics as the most chaotic FDR ever witnessed unfolded before our eyes! We were then treated to a role play showing how a private FDR would work and the comparison was rather stark. Why we do not all send our cases to private FDR’s is quite amazing!!

The day finished with a talk from Adele Ballantyne. Adele spoke about how a Family Consultant could assist in the various DR processes and how important it was for clients to be emotionally ready for the process.

The whole day was extremely engaging, and it is hoped that next year the DR Seminar will reach a greater audience. Watch this space………..

Mrs Sharon L Kay
East Sussex Resolution Chair