Court delays and a way forward

Bringing a claim for compensation when you have been injured can seem to take a long time.

Part of the delay is often caused by trying to prove liability i.e. who is to blame and some of the delay is because we have to wait for your recovery so the medical experts can provide a prognosis i.e. what is likely to happen in the future.

However, one extra delay is the increasing delay caused by the court. We are seeing more delays with the court doing administrative jobs like sealing court orders, listing a preliminary hearing listing and delays listing the case for trial.

Some recent research suggests that since 2016 delays have increased by 62%. The causes of this are multifold but underfunding for many years and the effects of the pandemic are significant. At a recent court users meeting in Bristol the common refrain from the judges when we suggested ways to improve the system was “we don’t have the staff”.

Where there are delays in the court system this means that justice is also delayed. Claimants are kept out of their compensation, cases take longer to come to a conclusion so with the case ongoing Claimants find it harder to move on with their lives.

What can we do to?

Some cases have to go to trial – simply because the parties cannot agree who is to blame or because they can’t agree the right amount of compensation. Experience tells us that sometimes you need to issue legal proceedings either because the court time limits on bringing a claim is approaching or simply because a lot of the time we get higher offers once the case has been issued in the court.

However, most cases do not go to trial. Most settle. The parties can make offers to one another by letter or email but they can also get together to settle the case.

This is known as a Joint Settlement Meeting or “Round Table” meeting. Don’t worry you won’t have to physically sit around the table with the Defendant!

What happens is the parties will meet normally at one of the solicitor’s offices or at a barrister’s chambers. We would have a private room where you can speak openly to your legal team, the Defendant insurer will be in a different room and there will be a third room where the barrister or solicitor conducting the settlement discussion will meet to have a private discussion.

We find that this method of settling a case to be very successful. Having the parties present with a whole day set aside often helps the case settle as offers get exchanged and the parties get the chance to explain their case.

Whist court delays are likely to be with us for some time there are plenty of other ways your legal team can bring your case to a satisfactory conclusion. A joint settlement meeting is one of them