Alternative Dispute Resolution in Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Claims

Clients often ask whether their case is likely to go to court. Some are very keen to ‘have their day in court’ but those who are anxious about the prospect are perhaps the wiser ones. Giving evidence and being cross-examined is a stressful experience no matter how strongly you know that you are in the right. It is also a risky process because there is never any certainty about what a witness might say or a judge might decide. And it is also potentially a very expensive exercise if you are not successful.

So there are many good reasons to try to resolve a case without going to trial. Following a recent ruling by the Court of Appeal in the case of Churchill v Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council it is now possible for the courts to order the parties in a claim to engage in some form of alternative dispute resolution. In personal injury claims this often takes the form of a meeting called a joint settlement meeting (JSM) for short. This involves the parties and their legal representatives making themselves available at the same time, either in the same building or online, to try to negotiate an agreement. It’s usually  very effective and even if a final settlement is not agreed can be useful in narrowing down the issues.

In clinical negligence cases settlement is often achieved through mediation. The NHS is generally keen to promote this type of process in cases where liability has been admitted. An independent mediator is appointed to act as a kind of go between, conveying each side’s point of view to the other and making constructive suggestions to try to move matters forward.

Alternative dispute resolution is not stress free and can be gruelling but overall usually proves constructive and less traumatic than the formal process of giving evidence and waiting for the judge’s decision.  It is also often a much speedier way of resolving a dispute as there are almost always long waits these days for trial dates.

The contents of this post do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only.

The contents of this post do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only