Barristers from Exchange Chambers have successfully concluded what they believe to be the first joint settlement meeting (JSM) using video-link technology.
With telephone and online methods set to become the norm in civil justice during the coronavirus crisis, David Knifton QC and Pankaj Madan negotiated a £3.8m settlement, subject to court approval which is expected to likewise be conducted by video-link.
The case involved a severe brain injury to a young man in a road traffic accident. The case was complicated by the fact that he had a history of difficult childhood experiences, a poor educational record and significant drug taking from his teens.
As a result, the defendant’s insurers contended that, regardless of the accident, the claimant was unlikely to have maintained regular employment or a lasting relationship with a partner, and that his drug use and offending behaviour would have continued.
Although it was agreed that he had a lifelong need for case management and support, following a period of multi-disciplinary rehabilitation, the defendant’s experts raised significant concerns that the claimant would not engage with such support, due to his impulsivity, disinhibition, impaired emotional control and chaotic lifestyle.
The JSM was scheduled for Exchange’s Leeds chambers this week, which was switched to a video conference in light of government advice on social distancing.
Mr Madan explained that, as a multi-site chambers, Exchange was “well practised” in using video conferencing, although users could also take part by telephone.
He created three meeting rooms: one for the barristers and instructing solicitors from Switalskis; a second which also included the client, litigation friend and case manager; and a third for counsel on both sides to talk to each other.