At a recent seminar a solicitor, with whom I was discussing the recent (rather extraordinary) hike in Court fees (see, Andrew Spencer's blog last week), mentioned an initiative which Andrew Ritchie QC has pioneered. Arising out of concerns about recent Government “reforms” to civil justice as these deal with personal injury litigation, the initiative is a proposal for personal injury and clinical negligence claims (presently dealt with in the civil justice system that we all know and love) to be dealt with instead by means of an alternative: a low cost and relatively swift arbitration scheme (using independent PI silks as arbitrators). In common with commercial arbitration, upon appointment, the PI Arbitrator will provide the parties with relatively early assessment of and decision upon those matters which they cannot agree between themselves. The scheme advertises itself as offering no Mitchell-strike outs and no Jackson-inspired costs rules (and, of course, with competitive entry fees). Defendants can still recover costs (albeit capped at 20% of damages). In essence, what is proposed is a private (privatised?) system of (informal) redress which will run parallel to (and, perhaps, eventually replace) the present civil justice system for PI claims. A link to the article in Counsel magazine in which a summary of the reasons for this proposal can be found here: http://www.counselmagazine.co.uk/articles/personal-injury-claims.
The web page for the new arbitration system (advertised as launching next month) is here:
Who knows, if the proposal takes off, the Royal Courts of Justice building on the Strand can become a full-time (rather than merely part-time) gymnasium and corporate entertainment venue…