The Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL) has launched an alternative dispute resolution panel to give solicitors and their clients another option when dealing with costs disputes.
The service offers telephone and face–to–face mediation and will be expanded to include early neutral evaluation, arbitration, and multi–case mediation. Other services planned for the future include mediation observerships, mediation information, and assessment meetings.
For lower-value disputes, the service offers two-hour telephone mediations. The mediator ‘shuttles’ between the parties, making private calls, and can also host a joint teleconference as and when appropriate. Face–to–face mediation – lasting either three hours or the whole day – is suitable for higher–value cases and all solicitor and own client disputes.
The panel has been put together with the help of well–known mediators Philip Hesketh and Tim Wallis. They are on the panel along with Hurst, costs lawyers Claire Green, Alison Speight and Donal Moran, Brian Dawson – senior partner of solicitors Walker Smith & Way – and Frances McCarthy, former president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
“Despite the steady growth of ADR in recent years, its application to costs disputes has generally been overlooked,” said ACL chairman Sue Nash.
“[ADR] can improve key performance indicators such as reducing claim life cycles and the legal costs of settlement. It can free time to spend on routine matters to help meet performance standards. It can improve cash flow by earlier conversion of work in progress to cash.”