In cases involving personal injury, such as common law claims or motor vehicle accident claims, the parties will often agree, or be ordered, to come together and attempt to informally settle the claim. In the majority of cases, settlement is generally in the form of a payment to the injured party.
How does Informal Settlement Work?
Settlement generally comes about in the form of an informal settlement conference or mediation. In most cases the process is quite similar, with the exception that the mediation is a more structured discussion with the assistance of a mediator who is often a senior legal practitioner:
- The parties will either have agreed, or been ordered by a Court, to undertake the ISC or mediation. In NSW, it is almost certain that a Court will make this order in your case.
- An agreement is reached between the parties as to location, date and time, and mediator (if appropriate). Generally the parties are asked to sign a confidentiality agreement before participating in mediation.
- Robust discussions are entered into between the parties legal representatives. You are generally not required to address or engage with the opposing parties, but will be actively involved in instructing your legal representatives during the process.
- If an agreement is reached, the appropriate papers are drafted (including Deed of Release, and various authorities) and signed by the parties. If proceedings have been issued, a Consent Judgement is signed and filed at Court.
- The defendant obtains clearances from Centrelink and Medicare, and arrangements are made to pay the settlement amount
The settlement process is designed to be as relaxed as possible, in an environment where the parties can thoroughly discuss your claim and focus on the issues that are in dispute and getting in the way of settlement.
Informal settlement discussions are also confidential, so each party can approach settlement in an open manner without fear that any admission or other matter might be used against them at a later stage. A significant majority of cases are resolved in this way.
Written by Vladana Vracar.
Vladana Vracar is a Solicitor in Julie Mahony’s Practice Group. Vladana works with Julie on a variety of compensation claims including trips slips and falls, accidents on the road and medical negligence claims.