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Something most barristers don’t know about Alternative Dispute Resolution


What is an Ungley Order?

In his address to a recent Dispute Resolution event Mr Justice Cobb made reference to an 'Ungley order' being made in the run up to a final hearing. But what is an “Ungley Order”?

It is likely that many solicitors and barristers – even those familiar with family law don’t know the answer. But many clients are starting to ask us – what penalty is there for not engaging in mediation/ADR. The Ungley order is not widely used but can help. We may see more of it in cases to come as the courts flex their muscles to bring about more ADR.

Very often legal principles take their name from the case in which they have arisen. Sometimes however they take their name from the judge who has popularised an approach or who has used a style of order for the first time.

The word ‘Ungley’ when used in the phrase ‘Ungley order’ is not a case name reference but instead refers to the form of an order made by Master Ungley, referred to in the Court of Appeal’s judgment in Halsey v Milton Keynes General NHS Trust [2004] EWCA Civ 576.

The “Ungley order stated that:-

“The parties shall ... consider whether the case is capable of resolution by ADR. If any party considers that the case is unsuitable for resolution by ADR, that party shall be prepared to justify that decision at the conclusion of the trial, should the judge consider that such means of resolution were appropriate, when he is considering the appropriate costs order to make.

The party considering the case unsuitable for ADR shall, not less than 28 days before the commencement of the trial, file with the court a witness statement without prejudice save as to costs, giving reasons upon which they rely for saying that the case was unsuitable.””

So now you know what an “Ungley order” is!!


Ian Stirzaker


Ian is the Senior Partner and Head of Family Law at SME Solicitors. Please contact him or Joanna Gardner for specialist help and advice in all aspects of family law at or

Added: 21 Mar 2016 14:45

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