Faculty's new PI arbitration service receives international endorsements

19 Sep


PRIOR to next week’s launch by the Faculty of Advocates of a new personal injury arbitration service at a two-day conference in Edinburgh, the Faculty published a series of endorsements of the initiative by legal experts and practitioners from a range of countries and jurisdictions.

Further details about the conference, which takes place on 29-30 September, can be found here. It can be attended by lawyers and non-lawyers alike, and is for anyone interested in exploring arbitration as an option for resolving a dispute: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/arbitration-in-scotland-conference-2017-tickets-36508819863

The Faculty currently operates a well-established arbitration facility – Faculty of Advocates Arbitration – under which it provides arbitration services in many areas as diverse as family and agricultural law. By adding a new personal injury arbitration service, the Faculty will be extending choice and offering new and exciting options in dispute resolution.

The benefits of arbitration are numerous, but speed, economy, choice of forum, confidentiality and choice of decision makers are key attractions for parties. There are also not the same geographical limitations as exist in the court-based litigation process.

Welcoming this international support, Professor David Parratt, QC, Convenor of Faculty of Advocates Arbitration, said: “Providing this new service positions the Faculty, and by extension Scotland, as a centre of international excellence in arbitration. It is extremely encouraging that it has already received the endorsement of such distinguished and experienced legal figures in other countries and jurisdictions.

“Members of Faculty have invested heavily in making themselves knowledgeable and qualified in arbitration practice and procedure, and are ready to participate in the service both as counsel and, importantly, as arbitrators. The combination of these members’ skills and this Faculty innovation promises new approaches to resolving personal injury claims.”

The endorsements are:

Joe Matthews: Past President, International Academy of Trial Lawyers; Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers; Member, American Board of Trial Advocates; Chartered Arbitrator, CIArb; Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators; Former Member, Board of Directors and Executive Committee, American Arbitration Association; Member, American Law Institute; Honorary Bencher, Inn of Court of Northern Ireland; Miami/Washington

“I recently learned of the innovative personal injury arbitration forum being instituted by the Faculty of Advocates Arbitration group, in conjunction with the Scottish Arbitration Centre, the Legal Affairs Minister, and the Scottish Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

“I applaud this effort to bridge the gap between the Independent Referral Bar and the world of arbitration. As a close knit bar, the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland is a great place for experiments like this to increase access to justice and encourage participation by the best advocates in the arbitration realm. The assistance of the Minister, the SAC and the CIArb should help ensure success.

“I look forward to seeing the roll out of the website and, in particular, the technology that will be employed to assist this innovation. I predict that the ability of all participants in this new dispute resolution forum to effectively employ information technology to increase the speed and efficiency, and to substantially lower the cost of resolving basic personal injury claims, will be critical to success.”

Arran Dowling-Hussey: Barrister & Arbitrator, Law Library, Dublin, and 33 Bedford Row Chambers, London.

“The Faculty of Advocates Personal Injuries Arbitration Scheme is a very welcome development and those involved in establishing the scheme are to be commended. On an access to justice basis, the Personal Injuries Arbitration Scheme is going to be beneficial for those claimants and defendants who otherwise would have used the courts both in Scotland and elsewhere. The suggestion that the reach of the scheme will be wider than the country it operates in is deliberate - as it is quite likely that other jurisdictions will draw inspiration from this exciting development.

“Self-evidently, there will always be a place for court-based resolution of personal injuries claims, but a significant amount of claims of this nature can be resolved via arbitration. Where personal injuries claims are resolved through the scheme, the benefit to the public at large is multifaceted. Firstly, an arbitration scheme of this type will, on average, resolve claims brought before it in a manner that is quicker and cheaper than traditional litigation. In addition, pressure will be taken off court lists by the use of arbitration and this will allow those claims, of whatever type, that do remain before the courts to be heard in a more expeditious way. A growth in the volume of arbitrations in Scotland will also allow those sitting as arbitrators the opportunity to gain greater professional experience in this field.

“Where Scottish arbitrators gain a greater chance to sit as arbitrators, this will impact on non-personal injuries based arbitration both inside and outside of Scotland. Users of arbitration will, going forward, have a wider pool of arbitrators to choose from and this will be beneficial for the domestic market for legal services. It also follows that Scottish arbitrators are now more likely, as a result of the experience they gain through this scheme, to develop their international practices.”

Christian Campbell LLB (Edin), LLM (McGeorge): New York State Bar and Center for International Legal Studies, Salzburg, Austria

“I would hope this and other efforts will contribute to disputes predominantly connected with Scotland to no longer be settled by Tribunals seated outside Scotland, and eventually to attract matters not connected to Scotland to a 'neutral' Scottish forum, much like many arbitrations seated in Switzerland.

“I do think initiatives like this are a good thing: the market will determine whether PI arbitration succeeds, in particular as something that the courts or other dispute settlement providers cannot compete with. And even if the take up is less than you hope, the skills acquired by the counsel-advocates and the arbitrator-advocates will translate to other contexts.”

Hon. Dame Alice Lawrence-Nemi: Education Commissioner, Arbitrator, River State, Nigeria

“It is a welcome development to see that personal injury arbitration is finally getting the consideration that it deserves. I am certain that the public will benefit a great deal from this.”

The Faculty has developed this new, innovative approach in response to the demands of today’s society, and the need for parties to be more involved in the quick and efficient resolution of their claims.

The Faculty recognises that choice within the new service is important. There will be approximately 40 advocates and QCs available to act as counsel representing the parties in arbitrations from now, and it is likely that by the end of the year the same number will be qualified to be appointed as personal injury arbitrators. Not only have these advocates successfully completed a specialist arbitration course leading to membership of the world premier arbitration institution, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, but they are already highly qualified and experienced in the field of personal injury. There will also be an important role for solicitors both in instructing counsel involved in the arbitrations or acting for their own clients, with counsel acting as arbitrator.

The Faculty of Advocates arbitration service will be modern and user-friendly, and will operate on a dedicated arbitration portal on the Faculty of Advocates’ website. From September 2017, parties will be able to download from the website arbitration clauses, submission agreements, arbitration rules, arbitrator appointment forms, and all other necessary material required to enable arbitrations to commence. From 2018, it will be possible for the vast majority of the arbitral process to be conducted online through a dedicated platform. The Faculty will also supply arbitrators who are qualified to decide these disputes. An additional service will be the appointment of such arbitrators, via the new appointment service which will be chaired by former Court of Session Senator, Lord Eassie.

When the personal injury service was announced last month, it secured the endorsement of Annabelle Ewing MSP, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, who said: “I welcome the Faculty’s new and innovative approach of advocate-led, alternative dispute resolution. This encouraging development has the potential to increase choice for clients, for whom litigation may not always be the right option.  It will also widen access to justice in the field of personal injury claims.”