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The guide to the conduct of cases involving serious injury

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I am due to speak about the Guide to the Conduct of Serious Injury Cases this week at the Brain & Spinal Cord Injury Conference  - jointly organised by Headway - the brain injury association and the Spinal Injuries Association.

My brief is to speak on a subject of relevance to those solicitors at the conference with spinal injury and brain injury practices. Here is a sneak preview...

The Guide to the Conduct of Serious Injury Cases seems to have had a difficult journey from its initial conception some years ago and to its present - though still seemingly not widely known about - incarnation. This is surprising given its stated aims & objectives and how The Guide seems - to most who practice in this area - to represent the best practice they have adopted and deployed for years.

The Guide sets out to bring together the parties involved in claims valued at £250,000 and over and where there is an element of continuing future loss. By establishing early lines of communication between the parties’ representatives The Guide is intended to help the parties resolve issues in dispute, with the Claimant at the centre of the process.

The Guide's principal aims are to:
•    resolve liability issues as quickly as possible, 
•    provide early access to rehabilitation, 
•    work together in a cost appropriate and proportionate manner, within an appropriate time frame and with a commitment to working in an environment of mutual trust transparency and collaboration.

The Guide is designed to help parties resolve liability issues within a maximum of 6 months; to work together in devising action plans to address rehabilitation, quantum and settlement. On admission, insurers signing up to The Guide commit to make interim payments of damages, disbursements and base costs (the commitment to make interim payments on account being a commitment to make those payments early and on a continuing basis). Rehabilitation is to be discussed at the earliest opportunity and the appointment of an independent case manager, instructed by the claimant, is a key objective. The Guide suggests that neither party shall seek to make Part 36 offers unless agreement via dialogue and negotiation has not been possible and the parties commit to avoid duplication in gathering in documents and evidence.

What is not to like? There seems to be a whole back story on why this has taken so long to codify - and why it cannot simply be a Civil Procedure Rules Protocol. However, what seems more important is signing up. The insurers are keen and so seemingly are most Claimant firms engaged in serious injury work.

To find out more and to sign up as a signatory firm solicitors are encouraged to contact the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

Brethertons is proud of its corporate accreditation with APIL. Jon Rees is a Fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.