Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
A not-for-profit organisation representing injured people

Blog: An alternative to the courts?

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An alternative to the courts?
Deborah Evans | 17 Jun 2015

The recent hike in court fees is a concern to many. Indeed Lord Dyson spoke at the CILEX presidential dinner of his real concerns for access to justice. Can the seriously injured claimant, unable to work, really be expected to find £10,000 up front to progress a case? Can we expect law firms to be able to bank roll this on a regular basis? No we can’t.

But whilst some fight against the changes, others are innovating. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) takes on increasing relevance if it can achieve the same result more quickly and at a lower price. Using the courts is now not only expensive, but slow. It can take months and months to get cases listed. Our members report that cases are then often stood down at the last minute, wasting time and money. Decision making on costs can be inconsistent as judges struggle with the demands of cost budgeting.

So what’s going on in the world of ADR? APIL has worked with FOIL and MASS to build a register of mediators, and it is anticipated the website will be launched in the autumn to allow easy selection of an experienced PI mediator.

This week alone two new ADR schemes are launching. PICARBS (Personal Injury Claims Arbitration Scheme) offers a straightforward arbitration scheme using QCs to decide on the substantive matter. With a low entry price it offers a significant saving on a court fee. Some claimant firms are open to new approaches, defendant firms are perhaps more cautious as they don’t have to fund the court fee in any event.

CADR (Costs Alternative Dispute Resolution) looks to use mediation to resolve costs disputes with provisional assessment or detailed assessment models delivered in a fraction of the time taken by the courts, at lower cost. Again, some claimant firms are willing to try it as the time saving alone will make a massive improvement to cash flow. In time we may see more entrants into this market.

Compensators have fewer drivers to use ADR. They do not pay the court fees, and like to hang on to their money as long as possible. However, delay raises internal costs significantly. If they can progress cases quicker, to get the right answer in fewer hours, their salary bill will reduce. Those who watch their pennies are giving ADR serious thought. In any event, should a matter go to court, both sides are asked to say that they have given due consideration to ADR.

Many law firms are ‘cautious adopters’ and will adopt the ‘watch and see’ approach to see how these schemes work before choosing to use them. It goes without saying that if ADR gets the case resolved quickly, and at a lower cost, there could be real benefits for the injured person. It will be down to members to advise their clients on the options available to them.  

Past blog entries

Effects of a change in the discount rate: what happens when a review is expected? , 16 Dec 2020
Three per cent drop in premiums does not reflect massive insurer savings, 09 Nov 2020
What help is out there for families when someone is injured?, 02 Nov 2020
Blindly heading into the unknown for injured people?, 09 Dec 2019
Lessons in looking after one another , 18 Nov 2019
‘Fake claims’ or ‘fake news’?, 06 Nov 2019
The tide of public opinion is turning against insurers, 15 Oct 2019
Time for a joined-up strategy to prevent medical negligence, 23 Sep 2019

About this blog

Deborah Evans

I'm Deborah Evans, APIL's Chief Executive Officer. I shall be using this blog to keep you informed about campaigning and political work carried out by APIL.