Stakeholders in Personal Injury Sector Evaluate Viability of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Back in 2018, the Civil Justice Council published a Report, which stopped short of recommending a ‘presumption’ that litigants would agree to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as a condition of issuing proceedings. Instead, the ADR Working Group concluded that there should be an increased focus on ‘promoting awareness, availability and encouragement of mediation’. Soon, the Working Group is expected to publish an updated report into the extent to which litigants should be forced to mediate.

It is understood that the serving CJC Chair and Master of the Rolls, Sir Geoffrey Vos, supports the role of ADR in civil justice, especially so in the personal injury (PI) sector. Indeed, he was quoted as having said that:

‘It is no good saying, for example, that because a personal injury has not been resolved in the personal injury portal, it must inevitably run its course to a final hearing in the county court. There must be continuing attempts at mediate interventions as cases progress.’[i]

In Litigation Futures and the Law Gazette, last week, increased use of ADR was promoted by claimant firms, in lieu of ongoing pilot studies.[ii]

Claimant firm, Minster Law, is collaborating with ‘inter party resolution platform’, Nuvalaw, and has offered to share its results with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

Shirley Woolham, Chief Executive of Minster Law, considers that ‘frictional costs and charges are no longer acceptable in the 2020s’ and that there is a ‘compelling argument’ for accelerating adoption of ADR, at least in the case of minor PI claims (up to £25,000), as the ‘standard means of settling volume claims’ in future:

‘The point of settlement is to allow injured people to get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible. That simply can’t happen if they have to wait over a year for their case to come to court [MoJ statistics show the average time taken for small claims and multi or fast-track claims to go to trial is around 51 weeks and 74 weeks, respectively. This is 14 weeks and 13 weeks longer than the same period in 2019[iii]]’.

Apparently, preliminary findings have ‘underscored’ the benefits of closer cooperation with insurers.

Elsewhere, dispute resolution platform, Claimspace, has teamed up with data analytics and risk management company, Verisk, to conduct a separate ADR pilot scheme for over 100 minor PI claims.

Law firms and insurers are said to be in the process of signing up, with 3 firms (including Slater and Gordon) and 2 insurers already participating.

 

[i] John Hyde, ‘Compulsory mediation back on the table as too few opting into ADR’ (29 March 2021 Law Gazette) <https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/compulsory-mediation-back-on-the-table-as-too-few-opting-into-adr/5107980.article> accessed 1 June 2021.

[ii] Neil Rose, ‘Pilots show benefit of ADR in small injury claims, say law firms’ (27 May 2021 Litigation Futures) <https://www.litigationfutures.com/news/pilots-show-benefit-of-adr-in-small-injury-claims-say-law-firms> accessed 1 June 2021.

John Hyde, ‘“Frictional costs no longer acceptable”, says PI firm backing ADR’ (26 May 2021 Law Gazette) <https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/frictional-costs-no-longer-acceptable-says-pi-firm-backing-adr/5108625.article> accessed 1 June 2021.

[iii] Neil Rose, ‘Trial delays continue to lengthen across civil courts’ (23 March 2021 Litigation Futures) <https://www.litigationfutures.com/news/trial-delays-continue-to-lengthen-across-civil-courts> accessed 1 June 2021.