Collaborative law is a new alternative method of settling disputes.
Nowadays, more and more litigants are expecting from their legal counsels a solution that meets their needs and interests rather than a debate and a confrontation before the courts, with the risk of having inappropriate solutions being imposed on them.
To respond to that expectation, new alternative methods of settling disputes have emerged.
Initially developed in the United States, it then spread to Canada before finally arriving in Europe.
The Commission on Family law of the French-Speaking Bar in Brussels thus decided to be committed to the development of collaborative law.
Collaborative law defines itself as a voluntary and confidential process of conflict resolution through negotiation.
This process is extremely well suited to the lawyer practices : it was invented by lawyers, for lawyers and their clients.
The collaborative lawyer receives from its client an exclusive and limited mandate to assist and advise it, with the sole objective to find a common ground.
The cornerstone of this process lies within the role of the collaborative lawyer. The latter commits itself to advise its client with the sole objective of seeking a negotiated solution.
Should this process fail, the consulted lawyers cannot continue their intervention and therefore may not ensure the protection of the interests of their client within the context of a contentious procedure.
Reaching an agreement is therefore the sole mission of the collaborative lawyers meaning that if they fail to do so, they have the obligation to withdraw themselves from the case.
Furthermore, collaborative law does not allow any room for a contentious procedure : it entails as a matter of fact the absence of an aggressive procedure (or the suspension of the one(s) ongoing) but also the absence of any threat to resort to that procedure or to any aggressive unilateral measure.
In addition, several principles underlie this process, including in particular : teamwork from lawyers, the highlight on the interests and needs of both parties and children, exchanging information in good faith, confidentiality, the implementation of effective communication, and so on.
Collaborative law is a process that entails the implementation of several clearly defined steps.
At each step of the process, the parties are asked to participate actively and to express their respective needs and interests as well as listening to the ones of the other party.
The lawyers are the facilitators and guarantors of the process as well as of the legality of the agreements reached.