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Benefits of mediation in clinical negligence cases

Elizabeth Francis, specialist clinical negligence barrister and CEDR accredited mediator discusses the benefits of mediation in clinical negligence cases

When I am instructed to act for a claimant, I always ask them what has made them want to pursue a case against the health care professionals at whose hands they believe they have suffered harm. Financial compensation is very rarely their first answer – most wish to be heard, to be acknowledged, for the impact of the injury to be recognised, they hope that by bringing a claim it will help to bring about changes which may help other people, they are frustrated that they did not receive adequate communication or a simple apology from the doctor or the hospital at the time. Yet they, and the health care professionals involved, end up on a long journey that can prove to be equally frustrating and extremely costly, both financially and emotionally, for all involved.  

I have been a keen supporter of ADR and mediation for many years and it is clear to me that many of the protracted and distressing disputes that clinical negligence lawyers deal with can be resolved through mediation at almost any stage, with savings in costs, uncertainty and stress, alongside the benefits of confidentiality and settlement options that may otherwise not be available to the parties in a courtroom.  

Mediators offer complete objectivity and confidentiality, building effective channels of communication between parties, and helping to find a mutually acceptable solution to a problem that may well be at risk of becoming entrenched and inefficient.

Whilst round table meetings between parties, without recourse to a mediator, can also be very effective, a knowledgeable neutral mediator can add an independent perspective, some helpful reality testing, and through careful management can act to focus the parties’ minds where a round table meeting might otherwise break down or result in a less beneficial settlement, particularly if one party is intransigent.  

As a mediator I do not tell parties what to do, far from it, but through active listening and the understanding of clinical negligence claims that comes from years of experience acting for both claimant and defendants, and utilizing the flexibility and confidentiality inherent in the mediation process where the conversations cannot be used against the parties in any subsequent litigation, I truly believe that the parties can be assisted to reach successful settlements which benefit all those involved.  

Mediations can be held virtually or in person and if you believe that a chat about mediation would be helpful for you please do not hesitate to get in touch via elizabethfrancis@atlanticchambers.co.uk or 0151 236 4421

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