Amid growing criticism of the cost and slow pace of litigating personal injury claims through English and Welsh civil courts, global law firm Clyde & Co has announced it is piloting the use of online arbitration system PIcArbs.
The two-year pilot, which began in December, will be used to arbitrate large loss personal injury claims from a major UK composite insurer and 12 leading claimant firms.
PIcArbs is an online system that facilitates binding arbitration using a panel of leading barristers to act as arbitrators.
Peter Walmsley, partner, Clyde & Co, said: “Litigating personal injury claims through the UK’s civil courts has become so expensive and slow that the insurance industry urgently needs an alternative means of resolving disputes.
“PIcArbs offers a practical and cost-effective alternative to traditional litigation combined with quality legal expertise. Our aim is to keep cases out of court and avoid litigation where possible. PIcArbs is very flexible and encourages transparency, that is unpinned by firm protocols and agreements. We hope this pilot will demonstrate the necessary proof of concept to both the insurer and claimant markets.
“We’re keen to hear from other insurers and claimant firms who would like to trial PIcArbs, even on a single case.”
Andrew Ritchie QC, founder of PIcArbs, said: “We are all aiming for a more cooperative process, reducing costs and providing damages to injured members of the public faster and with less stress.” Mr Ritchie noted that that while most insurers, law firms and the criminal courts used electronic documents, hard copy documents were still required by the civil courts.
Toby Scott, partner, Clyde & Co, said: “When I qualified as a lawyer, the issue fee for a High Court writ was £50.Today it’s 200 times that figure in high value proceedings without any commensurate improvement in service.
“With regard to personal injury claims, the civil courts are not user-friendly; decisions are inconsistent and the wait for trial dates is increasing. That’s why we are actively exploring alternatives like PIcArbs.”