A new adjudication scheme dealing specifically with professional negligence claims launched on 25 May 2016.

The 2015 Pilot Scheme

The new scheme follows on from the original pilot scheme that was launched in February 2015 and administered by the Professional Negligence Bar Association. The pilot scheme applied:

  • specifically to negligence claims against solicitors;
  • where the sum of damages sought was less than £100,000 plus costs.

Its aim was to provide an adjudication decision within 56 days that would be binding on the parties (unless agreed to the contrary prior to commencing the adjudication).

It was intended that this pilot scheme would run until three test cases had been adjudicated. However to date only two adjudications are thought to have been held. As a result the scheme has been relaunched and reworked.

The 2016 Scheme

Discussions concerning the new scheme have been chaired by Mrs Justice Carr and Mr Justice Fraser, with input from a panel that includes the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association, the Professional Negligence Bar Association, the Associate of British Insurers and representatives of the professional indemnity insurance market.

The new scheme will differ from the pilot in that:

  • It will be available for all (non-medical) professional negligence disputes, not just solicitor's negligence claims;
  • It will apply to claims with damages of any value;
  • Parties will decide prior to the adjudication whether the decision will be binding and final or binding and not final;
  • Adjudicator costs are banded in accordance with the value and complexity of each dispute.

The scheme is intended to work in tandem with mediation i.e. if a mediation has failed or is considered inappropriate for a particular matter, adjudication could provide an alternative.

It is hoped the new scheme will emulate the success of adjudications in the construction industry, which are now commonplace.