Vladimir Potanin's divorce and how early neutral evaluation might have helped
The most recent of the 'big money' divorce cases to hit the headlines last week, that of Natalia Potanina and Vladimir Potanin, must have caused some London lawyers to rub their hands together in glee at the thought of potential fees coming their way.
Typically, cases such as this are highly complex and clients can incur extensive fees. This case is interesting in that there has reportedly been a decision in Moscow by the Russian divorce court. Ms Potanina is claiming that she is effectively living in exile in England, and is unable to return to Russia until the decision is overturned. She is considering applying to the English courts, failing a favourable decision by the Russian Supreme Court.
It would appear that Early Neutral Evaluation would be a sensible option for any person finding themselves in a situation similar to Mr Potanin and Ms Potanina in late 2013, when they first separated.
Early Neutral Evaluation in family law cases is an up-and-coming method of Alternative Dispute Resolution. It can be distinguished from Arbitration in that the decision is not necessarily binding on the parties, and the evaluator can be asked to assist with as much or as little as the parties wish. The parties will be required to provide the evaluator (normally an experienced lawyer, retired Judge or similar) with the same information that would be required for a court hearing, including Forms E, a Chronology of events and a Statement of Issues.
Whilst this may not be suitable for all divorcing couples, Early Neutral Evaluation can reach a conclusion more expeditiously than court, and is confidential. In an age where the family courts are becoming more transparent (and, at some, experiencing long delays), this may be a major attraction for couples both in and out of the public eye.
Simon Burge, Partner in the Southampton team, is able to undertake Early Neutral Evaluation via a joint referral from both parties' solicitors. Separating or divorcing couples who are keen to resolve their differences outside of the court process and who are willing to be guided by an experienced family law practitioner should not hesitate to contact us for further information.