There are formal processes to try and settle your serious injury claim. These processes are collectively known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). All are aimed at trying to narrow the issues through discussion and attempting to dispose of the claim without the need to go to a Trial. All discussions during this process are “off the record” and cannot be referred to later on at Trial if the claim does not settle.
We set out below the common ADR processes used in serious injury claims.
Joint Settlement Meeting
This is a meeting where you will attend with your solicitor, and usually a Barrister, and meet with your opponent’s Solicitor and Barrister. In practice, you will usually be in one room and will often will not actually see the other party as they will be in a second room. The Barristers and Solicitor usually go away to discuss the case between them and try to narrow the issues and see if there is any scope for settlement. Advice will be given to you face to face with your legal advisor during this meeting, if you are in attendance. Some clients chose not to attend and just attend on the phone.
This is a more formal process with an Independent Mediator appointed by both parties to try and facilitate a settlement. Both parties will be in their respective rooms and the mediator will shuttle between them. The mediator has the benefit of knowing both sides of the story and will know if a settlement is likely and how far apart the parties are. This can be a very useful process if both parties genuinely want to settle and are willing to co-operate.
Offers to Settle
As the claim progresses, the parties can make offers to each other to try and settle. Offers are made in writing and can be made at almost any point in the claim. Some offers are different to others and your solicitor will provide you with appropriate advice if an offer is to be made or received – See our Guide on Part 36 offers for more information.
If the claim settles before the Trial, the parties will draw up an agreement to capture the terms of the agreement and ensure that all parties sign and keep to the agreement until the agreed action has been taken.