Lead Forensics
Prettys Solicitors Ipswich

Talking Works

Round Table Working

If you are involved in a family dispute, your lawyer may be able to suggest a range of different approaches. At Prettys we support a number of different mediation services and discussion-based routes, including Round Table Working. This approach has worked well for many clients in Ipswich, Suffolk, Chelmsford and Essex.

Who is present?

A Round Table meeting usually includes you and your solicitor, the other party and their solicitor if they have one.  Sometimes meetings can just be between solicitors, if it is agreed, as a means to speed up the process.  If necessary, it can also involve other expert advisors who are needed to assist on specific issues such as accountants, IFAs, or family consultants.  Meetings can also include family members and children if there is a sensible purpose in doing this. 

What are the rules?

The great advantage of this approach is that there are no hard and fast rules about who attends, what the meetings are about and how they are run.  The process is designed for what is needed, to case to case. 

How does it work?

With our assistance, you identify the issues that need to be resolved with the other party to achieve your desired outcome; this may be a broad range of issues or something specific e.g. finances or children.  Like other discussive approaches Round Table discussion is “issues led” and so the parties chose the issues that are important to them.  Once the issues are identified a plan is agreed to get to solutions. 

All discussion and negotiation takes place in face to face meetings with the other party (and their solicitor, if s/he has one) in order to explore the issues and talk through potential solutions.

Round Table meetings are held on a “without prejudice” basis and do not bind the parties unless and until they agree to be bound.  This is to encourage constructive discussion and to allow the parties to explore potential settlement scenarios. 

How long does it take?

Meetings can be quite intense and can last for a number of hours depending on content and the emotions of the parties.  It will usually take a number of meetings to reach a final outcome but this will depend on the circumstances of the case.  It depends on the plan agreed as to what needs to happen for solutions to be reached. 

What happens with the outcomes reached?

If an acceptable outcome is reached this will be recorded.  Part of the discussion will focus on what format of binding to legal documents is required.  For example, if this is to be by way of an application for a consensual court order.  One of the advantages of having both parties’ solicitors present during negotiations (if both parties instruct) is that they will have already validated the outcome from a legal perspective and so it is unlikely to be unpicked at a later stage.

What happens if it doesn’t work?

If a solution cannot be reached, other methods of resolution remain available so the parties lose nothing by trying to resolve disputes in this way.  Even if full agreement has not been reached the areas of dispute may have been narrowed.  It is still an option to apply to the court.

What happens if the other party is a Litigant in Person?

A Round Table process can work well even where the other party is not represented by a Solicitor.  In these circumstances we will invite the other party to attend and work with them direct if they agree. We will advise the other party to seek advice but if they chose not to do so the meetings can still go ahead.

We will facilitate the face to face discussion and will make it clear to the other party that we are not neutral and that we represent our client’s interests and not the other party.  If a successful outcome is reached and the agreed format requires drafting, we will draft what is needed but on the basis we advise the other party to take his or her own legal advice, before signature and return of the documents.

What should I do now?

To try a self-help guide which could help you choose what styles of resolution could suit you, click here. If you would like to speak to a lawyer about a family dispute, call the Family Team on 01473 232121, ask us to call you back or email us. Prettys works with clients in Suffolk, Essex and other areas of  East Anglia.


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