Claimspace, the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) business that is part of handl Group, has entered into an agreement with leading consumer legal services business Slater & Gordon (S+G) to process disputed injury claims through ADR. Stewart McCulloch, Claimspace MD, said S+G clients would avoid waiting over a year for cases to come to court, saving insurers and claimant firms time and money in the process.
McCulloch said: “It is the first time ADR technology has been used to settle disputed PI cases. There are on average 110,000 disputed cases annually, and if we applied ADR technology to all of them, we could save the claims industry over £100m in case handling cost in the short term.”
He explained that the process will rule on both liability and quantum (the amount of damages the claimant receives). Each case, which requires the claimant’s permission, is expected to settle within 10 days. Cases will include traditional fast track liability claims, MoJ portal quantum disputes and disputes arising out of post-reform OIC portal motor claims.
The Claimspace software has been developed in conjunction with Verisk and will be embedded in S+G processes to avoid immediately resorting to litigation. Matt Jarvis, MD of personal injury at S+G, said the technology can quickly scale up to manage a high volume of cases.
“We expect to see disputed cases dropping out of the OIC portal in larger numbers given we are now four months after launch, and we are well placed to work with insurers to give injured people the option of ADR for a better customer journey to settlement.”
Jarvis added: “Following trials, we concluded that Claimspace was the right tech-based ADR service to meet our needs and we are now open to the prospect of extending ADR into EL and PL claims, and potentially multi-track cases too.”
“I have always believed that ADR can improve access to justice for injured people and after extensive testing with Claimspace we are now in position to take it to our clients. Collaborative partnerships like this one have huge potential to increase the resolution of claims. This will ensure a better experience for clients and will also help to improve efficiency across the sector.”
Stewart McCulloch said that fast track PI claims (as currently defined) will eventually diminish by up to 80% in about two-three years’ time as a result of the whiplash reforms, reducing RTA claims handling costs over the long term to £20 million a year, but applying the technology to EL and PL will continue the savings trend in other claims areas.
He forecast that the benefits of digital claims resolution will quickly present significant challenges for litigation and even traditional paper based ADR offered by some barristers’ chambers.
“The opportunity to present your case in court is a fundamental part of our justice system, but government cuts and the pandemic have opened the door to new approaches. In addition, and right across the value chain, digital claims settlement will inevitably call into question the chambers-based model.”
He concluded: “I’m not arguing for a complete removal of litigated injury cases, as the opportunity to go to law must always be open to claimants and defendants. But as the above table shows, now that the technology is proven, advocates of a court-based litigation process need to find answers to digitised ADR, or risk going out of business.”
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