Alternative Dispute Resolution in Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Claims

Partner Iona Smith

Partner Iona Smith discusses an increasingly popular way of settling personal injury and clinical negligence claims.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is an increasingly popular way of settling personal injury and clinical negligence claims without a Court hearing.  ADR can take a number of forms, the most common of which are Joint Settlement Meetings and Mediations.  

Joint Settlement Meetings are often held in barristers’ chambers where both parties attend, together with their legal advisers, to try to narrow the issues of dispute between them and reach a settlement that is acceptable to both parties on the day.  Each parties’ legal team guides them through the experience and explains the opposition’s arguments together with the rationale behind them.  This is helpful to demonstrate the pros and cons of pursuing the claim further and highlights to both parties the approach a Judge might take if the claim is not capable of settlement in advance of a Court hearing.  

A Mediation is a slightly different process.  It takes place on neutral ground and is less adversarial.  The mediator is an independent arbitrator whose job is to make both parties feel at ease and facilitate a comfortable environment within which to explore settlement.  In a mediation, both parties have separate rooms and the independent mediator will listen to the parties in each room, and convey settlement offers between them.  At a mediation, in addition to a financial settlement, both parties have an opportunity to meet face to face.  This gives the claimant an opportunity of explaining the impact the accident/negligence has had on them personally, and the defendant then has an opportunity to apologise and advise of any steps it has undertaken to ensure similar situations do not occur in the future.  In addition to providing a financial settlement, this process can be helpful to claimants psychologically in providing them with closure to their claim.  

The primary purpose of ADR is to achieve a solution that is an acceptable compromise to all parties.  

Courts now expressly require both parties to commit to exploring ADR or explain why they consider it to be unsuitable.  

The main advantages of settling a claim by ADR are:

  • certainty; 
  • avoiding the stress of giving evidence in Court; 
  • reducing the time frame;
  • securing a reasonable outcome with a minimum of expense and stress.  

At Gaby Hardwicke we use all methods of ADR effectively aim to secure the best possible outcome for our client.  The personal injury and clinical negligence team at Gaby Hardwicke have secured almost £3 million in compensation for our clients by using ADR methods effectively in the last 12 months.

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