The majority of public liability claims are settled out of court via settlement negotiations, as these allow both parties to avoid the stresses of trials, as well as the costs associated with them. In this post, we’ll discuss compulsory conferences, including what they are and what you can expect.
What is a Compulsory Conference?
Compulsory conferences usually take place once all of your injuries have stabilised and all relevant supporting information has been gathered and assessed. The law requires that the claimant and the respondent both attend a compulsory conference together. This is to discuss accident compensation claims before taking the matter to court.
Although many claimants can be anxious about attending a settlement conference, it is actually a good opportunity for both parties to come together and attempt to resolve the claim before litigation begins.
What Should I Expect from a Compulsory Conference?
Both you and the respondent will attend the compulsory conference – this is generally held face-to-face. Your nominated accident lawyer should also attend the conference with you, and, if it is deemed appropriate, a mediator will also attend.
Compulsory conferences for personal injury claims are usually held around tables, making them relatively informal proceedings.
After initial introductions, your accident lawyer will usually speak first. They will outline your case and put forward an opening offer of settlement, and, from here, the other side will respond to your arguments. Their case is likely to focus on two factors:
- Liability – whether your injury was actually caused by the negligence of the respondent
- Quantum – the amount you’re seeking in damages
Throughout this response, you may feel like the other side are bringing up points that you disagree with or are untrue. You should not verbally respond immediately, however, and instead, write these points down and discuss them with your legal representative.
Before the conference commences, you should make it clear to your lawyer whether or not you are happy to answer any questions from the respondent. If not, your lawyer can answer based on your instructions.
After an initial discussion of your accident compensation claims, the parties may split into different rooms for discussions. From here, your representative will negotiate with the respondent’s representative, with a series of offers usually exchanged. To help you in this process, your lawyer will help you put together counter-offers.
If an offer has not been accepted, then one party will usually inform the other that an offer being made verbally is their final offer. If this offer is not accepted, then the parties must exchange written offers. These final offers must be genuine offers that the parties are willing to settle for. Once these final offers are exchanged, they must remain open for 14 days and can only be rescinded with the order of a court.
What Will the Outcome of a Compulsory Conference Be?
If the conference is successful, an offer of settlement can be made and accepted, ending any legal dispute before court proceedings begin. If an offer of settlement is not made or not accepted, then the matter can progress to court.
Should you accept an offer of settlement, it’s important to know that you will no longer be able to seek any damages relating to your claim, so you should consider any offer carefully and seek legal advice before accepting any offer. If you’re considering making a public liability claim, or have already made a public liability claim and are due to attend a compulsory conference, then please contact us to discuss legal representation.