Will I Have To Go To Court If My Claim Is Issued?
Help! I’ve been advised to issue Court Proceeding – But does that mean that I will need to go to Court? Can I still try to settle my claim?
Whilst many of my claims settle without the need to issue Court Proceedings there are some instances when it is necessary. Examples are as follows:
- Liability is denied and a court decision is required to determine who was responsible for the injuries and losses;
- Liability is admitted but the value of the claim cannot be agreed with the Defendant;
- We are approaching the 3rd anniversary of the accident and it is necessary to issue Court Proceeding to prevent the claim from becoming statute barred under the Limitation Act.
It may also be necessary to involve the Court if the Defendant is unwilling to make or is offering an inadequate interim payment.
Will I actually have to attend Court and give evidence?
The claim will need to be prepared on the basis that it will be heard by a Judge. However, the majority of my cases settle without having a full Court trial or assessment hearing.
After court proceedings are issued there is usually plenty of time for negotiations to take place before the case is listed to be heard by a Judge. These negotiations can take the form of telephone conversations, written offers put forward in correspondence or settlement meetings.
What is a Joint Settlement Meeting/mediation?
More formally, the Court promotes alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and will expect the parties to cooperate and see if a settlement can be achieved. Financial penalties can be incurred if a party refuses to do so.
Where the compensation award is likely to be substantial, the parties can arbitrate, mediate using an independent/impartial third person who can help the parties talk though the issues, or the parties can set up a Joint Settlement Meeting (or JSM for short). These meetings can be beneficial for both Claimants and Defendants. The aim is to:
- Achieve an early and amicable settlement for a certain sum;
- Reduce costs;
- Avoid the stress and risk of attending court.
Many of my claims settle at a JSM. The meeting usually takes place either at the barrister’s chambers or our offices (although recently some JSMs have been carried out online).
What happens is that a date is agreed where both the Claimant and their representatives and the Defendant and their representatives meet. Three rooms are allocated. The Claimant’s team will sit in one room, the Defendant’s team sits in another and the 3rd room is a ‘neutral’ room used by the legal teams for discussions/negotiations and to narrow the issues in dispute . Both liability (ie who is responsible) and quantum (ie the value of the claim) can be discussed.
It can be quite a long drawn out day where offers and rejections go back and forth before a compromise is reached.
Not all claims end in agreement but many do and it can be a helpful way of concluding a case, without incurring the time, stress and expense of a court hearing.