About me

My name is Orla O’Hagan. I am a former Judge of the civil and family court, now acting as a private FDR Judge in the South of England.   This service is primarily web based, but I offer remote and in-person FDRs and the latter would be at a location of your choice.

In court, Judges conduct FDRs, but a private FDR Judge may be a Solicitor, Barrister, or other suitably qualified person. The advantage of instructing me is that I have actually conducted FDRs in court and determined these cases at trial myself, so am in the unique position of bringing direct judicial experience to the table. I am independent and impartial, with no stake in the outcome of the case.

In 2020 I left the Judiciary, where I was working as a District Judge and before that as a Deputy District Judge. Prior to judicial office, I spent many years practising as a Family Solicitor and as a Family Mediator. I have worked in family law for nearly 35 years including 10 years in the Judiciary.

As a Solicitor, I was a member of the Law Society, Family and ‘Advanced Family’ Law Panels undertaking private and publicly funded work including divorce, financial and private child law cases.As a Mediator, I was authorised in all forms of family mediation, including financial issues on divorce and child arrangements. Having also volunteered during these years, for the Citizens Advice Bureau, running a Family Advice Clinic and visiting families at home for Home-Start, I understand the many different issues families face, generally and on breakdown of the family unit. 

As a Judge, I held civil, family and private child law authorisations as well as sitting on the Financial Remedy Court (FRC) so have direct experience of conducting FDRs and determining these cases at final hearings.

Conflict of interest

If the following circumstances apply, I cannot conduct a private FDR:

  • The parties have appeared before me in court.
  • I advised or represented one of the parties as a Solicitor.
  • I assisted the parties (or one of them) in Mediation before.
  • One or both of the parties is known to me.
  • Some other potential or actual conflict of interest is identified.

Representation at the private FDR by Solicitors and Counsel (who may also be part-time Judges) who appeared before me in court or are known to me professionally from the Judiciary, does not present a conflict of interest in itself, but if there is any concern about this, please raise it with me before we proceed.