I have been a bit remiss last week in writing any blogs. This has in no small part been due to a settlement or round table meeting last week. I am pleased to say that the claim settled at the settlement meeting.
In fact, I am a great fan of settlement meetings. That is not to say that each and every case is going to settle in this way. However, the parties in a claim have increasingly been encouraged by the Courts and legal systems to negotiate, not just by way of correspondence or telephone calls as used to be the case, but by actually meeting.
Informal settlement meetings normally between lawyers have, of course, taken place for years. The whole purpose of what is known as a 'round table meeting' is for the Claimant as well as the insurance representative to turn up with the lawyers and to make every reasonable attempt to negotiate settlement.
For this reason I always state to Defendants before a settlement meeting that unless they are prepared to turn up with their cheque book, there is little point in turning up at all. This is of course a metaphorical phrase. I do not literally expect a cheque to be written on the day. However, the purpose is to attempt to settle and I would be wholly unimpressed with any Defendant who turned up with the intention merely of ‘sounding out’ the Claimant with no real intention of settling. I say with some degree of confidence that a Court would also be unimpressed with such a stance and this would be reflected in any subsequent Order for costs.
The whole purpose of this blog is to explain that settlement meetings do work. There is little need for a mediator, which is normally an independent person intended to mediate between the parties. So long as both sets of parties are sensible, the meeting can generally be held in a sensible manner.
There is no need for the Claimant to meet the other side at the meeting. In some cases they wish to do so and this can be helpful. Generally it is lawyers and insurers on the other side and certainly not the person who caused the accident.
In addition and as a final point, there is no obligation on parties to settle the claim at a round table meeting. The intention is to try and settle. If however, the parties cannot reach a settlement, matters will instead proceed to Trial. The Judge will not know about the settlement meeting before Judgment is given.
Tristan Hallam is a Personal Injury Solicitor in the London office of Slater and Gordon Lawyers. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert Personal Injury Solicitors on 0800 916 9046 or claim online and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim at no cost to you.