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Association of Personal Injury Lawyers

Injured people must retain access to the courts

15 Dec 2017
APIL news

A requirement for personal injury claimants to engage in alternative dispute resolution would result in delays and unnecessary costs, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) warns. 

The Civil Justice Council has suggested that compulsory alternative dispute resolution (ADR) should be considered further.

“Alternative dispute resolution is certainly beneficial in some cases, and can lead to earlier settlement, but it is not appropriate for ADR to be mandatory at any stage of a personal injury claim,” said APIL president Brett Dixon.

“Not every case is suitable for ADR. To make it a condition that in order to issue court proceedings you must have tried a method of ADR could be problematic if a claimant solicitor is instructed just before limitation, for example,” he said. “And joint settlement meetings are stalling in high-value clinical negligence cases because of uncertainty about the discount rate. Not using ADR must be an option in order to maintain full access to justice and prevent cases from dragging on”.

Locking injured people out of the courts through compensation schemes run by defendants risks forcing them into agreeing to undersettlement, Mr Dixon warns.

“It is very troubling to think that people might be forced to engage with a defendant’s resolution scheme without taking independent legal advice first. They could, perhaps unknowingly, agree to a settlement which does not meet their needs, as is the case with the proposed rapid resolution and redress scheme for birth injuries which will pay only 90 per cent of the average settlement,” he explained.

“A great deal of work is undertaken in both higher and lower value injury claims to ensure cases do not go to court unnecessarily. The low-value claims portals, joint settlement meetings, and mediation are all used effectively as a means of ADR in personal injury cases, and the vast majority* settle before court. Compulsion is both unnecessary and unjust. To continue to improve the voluntary up-take of ADR, the focus should be on signposting to alternative methods of settlement at appropriate times during the case.  

“The bottom line is that an injured person should always have the option to have their case heard in court,” he said.

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Notes to editors:

  • APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.
  • For more information contact APIL's communications manager Jane Hartwell on t: 0115 943 5416, e: jane.hartwell@apil.org.uk, or assistant press and communications officer Lizzy Freeman t: 0115 943 5431, e: lizzy.freeman@apil.org.uk.
  • Visit the association's website at www.apil.org.uk.
  • Follow @APIL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APIL.

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Court closure threat to local justice system , 21 Mar 2018
Government washes its hands of injured people, 20 Mar 2018
Cold calling ban: time for Government to deliver, 08 Mar 2018
MPs told: Now is the time to ban cold calling, 22 Jan 2018
Get to grips with clearing snow and ice, say lawyers, 21 Dec 2017
Kent roads have highest number of collisions, figures reveal, 13 Dec 2017
Highest rate of work injuries in North Warwickshire, 08 Nov 2017

More past press releases

Head of Public Affairs
Lorraine Gwinnutt
0115 943 5400
lorraine.gwinnutt@apil.org.uk

Communications Manager
Jane Hartwell
0115 943 5416
jane.hartwell@apil.org.uk

Press & Communications Officer
Lizzy Freeman
0115 943 5431
lizzy.freeman@apil.org.uk