Financial remedy applications – the FDR appointment
‘FDR’ stands for ‘Financial Dispute Resolution’. Both parties attend the appointment with (except in the case of a ‘self-represented person’) their solicitor or barrister. The judge who conducts the hearing has in front of him copies of all settlement offers made by the parties and also (usually – it is not compulsory) a written summary of each party’s case. He hears from each of the lawyers and asks questions to fill in any gaps in his understanding of the case. The parties do not give evidence and usually do not even speak.
The judge then gives his view of the case, saying what he thinks a fair outcome would be. He invariably says to the parties that he might have taken a different view if he had read all the case papers and heard both parties give evidence and be cross-examined – it is only a snapshot. He also invariably urges the parties to try to settle the case rather than incur the heavy legal costs of proceeding to a final hearing.
In case the parties fail to settle, the judge gives directions for concluding the case: what further documentary evidence if any is to be filed, when the final hearing is the take place, who needs to attend, and so on.
If the case fails to settle and there is a final hearing, the judge who heard the FDR appointment is automatically disqualified from hearing the final hearing. This is because he knows what each party is prepared to settle for. The judge at the final hearing must come to the case without any knowledge of the negotiations that have been going on behind the scenes and make his decision purely on the evidence put before him at the hearing.