It is not widely known that a professional negligence adjudication pilot scheme was re-launched earlier this year, giving people with claims against professionals an alternative to issuing court proceedings. The scheme is based upon the construction adjudication scheme which has proved to be successful and has a large uptake amongst construction companies and professionals.
The professional negligence scheme initially launched in 2015 however it has been subject to revision and has now been re-launched.
So what has changed?
The updates have seen the issue of detailed guidance in relation to the scheme and the widening of the scheme to include a greater number of professionals. Further, there had previously been a cap upon the value of claims of £100,000 however this has now been removed. These changes have therefore broadened the number of people who are eligible to use the scheme.
The purpose of the scheme is to encourage parties to resolve disputes quickly (within 56 days of the adjudicator being appointed) and at a cost proportionate to the amount claimed. The adjudicator will be a barrister who is a specialist in professional negligence cases. The adjudication would be separate to referring the dispute to a court or tribunal.
It is to be noted that the adjudicator may direct that his own fees and disbursements be paid by the parties in whatever proportion he sees fit. However, unlike the Court, the adjudicator shall have no power to award any party its other costs of, and occasioned by, the dispute.
We at Levi Solicitors LLP believe that the introduction of the professional negligence adjudication scheme is a positive step forward. It will allow parties to resolve disputes swiftly and hopefully at a cost proportionate to the amount in dispute. However, as the scheme is voluntary it may be difficult to enforce decisions or compel defendants to be subject to the adjudication process. As court fees can be very high, some potential Claimants can be priced out of issuing proceedings. Therefore, professionals facing a negligence claim may feel that refusing to go to an adjudication may help them avoid the claim altogether.
If you have a claim against a professional, we can help. Please call our experienced Professional Negligence team on 0113 244 9931 today.