Catastrophic Injury Quarterly Review: Seventh Edition
Welcome to the seventh edition of our Catastrophic Injury Quarterly Review…
Published 1 October 2015
The Personal Injury claims Arbitration Service (PIcARBS) was launched at an event at Lincoln's Inn Fields on 22 June. The service is aimed at personal injury and clinical negligence claims over £50,000 and is offered as an alternative to what is characterised in the launch literature as an inefficient and costly court service.
However, it is clear that the motivation for the development of this specialist arbitration service goes beyond cost and inefficiency. One of the key criticisms of the current system of litigation is the way the overriding objective was amended in April 2013 to move "away from 'justice between the parties' and towards the courts own convenience" resulting in cases being "struck out for non-trivial procedural default". There is also criticism of the introduction of costs budgeting and the failure of the judiciary to support an increase in recoverable hourly rates.
It is claimed that "it is time for the parties, the insurers and the injured to co-operate again. To litigate through arbitration. To settle with properly paid professional advice under the guidance of experienced arbitrators".
On the face of it this is a laudable aim and the scheme developed by PIcARBS certainly goes some way to improving on the court service's inefficiency and the ever increasing costs imposed by HMCTS. But the scheme fails to recognise the benefits brought about by the Jackson reforms.
The powers the court now has to deal with procedural default, whilst no doubt seen by some as creating a "heavy handed system" were nevertheless necessary given the previous widespread default which benefitted neither party. Costs budgeting, whilst far from ideal at present, is nevertheless an important and appropriate way of controlling ever growing Claimant costs.
Whilst some insurers may want to consider arbitration under the PIcARBS scheme as one of the many ADR tools available to them, serious thought should be given to how procedural timetables are to be enforced under the scheme and how Claimant costs are to be controlled.