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It was reported that the number of Solicitor negligence claims issued in the High Court fell last year by nearly half after rocketing by threefold in 2014. As a result professional indemnity law firms are having to consider staffing levels. The reason for this is that insurers have realised the importance of mediation as a way of resolving disputes.

The figures, released by Reynolds Porter Chamberlain warned law firms not to relax, as pain from the 2013-14 spike in cases is still to be felt, with a large number of frozen cases from the financial crisis yet to be settled.

Many claims are subject to so-called standstill agreements, which freeze the case without settling or dismissing it.  A partner at RPC said that:

“The idea behind standstill agreements is that they give claimants some extra time over and above the official time limits within which to finalise their investigations, in circumstances where they would otherwise be forced to start litigation and incur expensive court fees and other legal costs.”

In our view this shows that Claimants and defendant insurers are happy to put matters on hold while they try to resolve them and avoid having to pay the issue fee or defence lawyers’ costs. Litigation is increasingly expensive and outmoded. Mediation is a far preferable way of dealing with a professional negligence claim than protracted and expensive legal proceedings, involving costs, Court fees and ATE premiums that can’t be recovered in their entirety. Quite often the barrier to settlement in such cases can be the costs that are racked up which outweigh the value of the dispute itself. For insurers and claimants alike it is better to spend a relatively small sum on a mediation rather than continuing with costly litigation.

The benefits of using ProMediate to resolve your professional negligence dispute include an automatic limitation standstill under the Limitation Act as we are a certified ADR Provider.

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