Many personal injury professionals will have come across Tim Wallis in recent years as the RTA portal continues to generate headlines and Tim fields questions from an anxious industry.
However, Tim is also a voluntary director of Trust Mediation; a not-for-profit personal injury dispute resolution service which he advocates as a useful solution for solicitors and defendants.
"Managing partners are understandably focused on cash flow forecasts as would any business owner at times like these," he says. "But converting your work in progress into cash via settlement at mediation isn't an easy pill for fee earners to swallow when the belief is that it could mean lower costs and less profitability."
"When fees are locked up into the end of a case management consultants will often advise firms to shorten the life cycle of cases and rigorously chase aged debt, but I would argue mediation is a way you can not only convert WIP into cash in a short period of time but also increase the WIP on the case in the process."
Tim argues that the mystery surrounding mediation should be less of a barrier to it being used by claimants. "Really it's about identifying a case that you can answer 'yes' to both of these questions: a) If an offer came in today could I advise the client whether to accept or reject it? b) Has the other side rejected my last offer or refused to make any offer?
"If you then invite the other side to mediate the case, you then attend the mediation and agree a settlement and costs, the cheque could be in the post within 14 days.
"If you can negotiate you can mediate," he adds, pointing out that when the other side refuses to mediate, organisations like Trust Mediation can put you in touch with "mediation champions" in many insurance companies and solicitors' firms. "Or you could insist on their reasons for not mediating and warn them of the costs consequences as laid out in PGF II SA v OMFS Co & Anr 2012."
Tim says mediation has developed an undeserved reputation. "It is not touchy-feely voodoo - it's just business. We've settled 90% of the cases referred to us and they are usually the difficult ones."