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ADR: law firms’ deliverance

By Andrew Ritchie, QC and Tony Guise

In a rapidly changing legal service sector, Temple Legal Protection takes a keen interest in technological and other innovations. In the first of a series of articles from product and services providers, DisputesEfiling.com (DEF) present a timely new service that we feel will be of interest to readers of this newsletter.

In the next 12 months civil litigation will undergo existential change with the introduction of radical new exemptions and rules. These changes include the increased small claims limit in personal injury RTA claims, the introduction of fixed recoverable costs (FRC) and near compulsory ADR for all civil litigation.

The opportunity to maintain and increase profit lies in embracing ADR and taking greater advantage of the lower overheads afforded by online documentation platforms. The combination of both bring benefits for clients and law firms alike; this is due to:

  • Faster cycle times for cases, leading to:
    – Faster receipt of compensation, and
    – Faster receipt of costs.

“ADR delivered online by a system tailored to fit the ADR process is crucial to achieving the full cashflow advantages of ADR.”

The European Parliament studied the savings achieved by ADR over litigation and found ADR saved time and money. One example was a claim running in Belgium for over €67,200. Using the courts the claim took 505 days to resolve by trial and cost €15,370.50. The same claim resolved using mediation took 45 days and cost €4,369.50. Research showed that the success rate of mediation in resolving cases was ca. 76%.

An important point to be noted here is that the earlier the case mediated, the sooner the case ended. Earlier ending means earlier payment of costs. To achieve this positive change in cashflow needs fee-earners to advise clients that the Courts require the resolution of civil claims through ADR; this is as made clear in the recent CJC Report on ADR, see recommendation 20(a).

In her quarterly reports of data incidents for the past 12 months, the Information Commissioner has drawn attention to the most common breaches in the legal and judicial sectors. Most of these involve paper or emails with attachments and included:

  • Data posted or faxed to incorrect recipient;
  • Data sent by email to incorrect recipient;
  • Loss or theft of paperwork;
  • Loss or theft of unencrypted devices.

Solutions such as working in a law firm’s extranet are limiting when the time comes to collaborate with the other side and the mediator. With this in mind a trusted, neutral and secure platform that works hand in glove with your own processes and software is vital. This is in order to avoid the risk of reputational damage and large fines imposed for GDPR breaches.

DisputesEfiling.com (DEF) is the only platform to provide an independent, tailored solution. The claim documents are filed electronically in ‘drawers’ tailored for personal injury, clinical negligence and all other civil litigation. No lawyers involved in the case can own the system.

Modern ADR providers are mandating the use of the DEF Platform to protect themselves and their customers from data breaches and to help achieve efficiency. Examples of these include the PI Claims Arbitration Service and Hunt ADR; another is the NHS Resolution agency authorising the use of the DEF Platform for a pilot as part of their clinical negligence mediation programme.

For further information please contact either Andrew Ritchie QC, Registrar, PIcArbs registrar@picarbs.co.uk or Tony Guise, Director, DisputesEfiling.com Limited, tonyguise@disputesefiling.com

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