Adviceline Injury Lawyers attended the State conference of the Australian Lawyers Alliance held in Lorne last month at which Judge Sandra Davis, of the County Court of Victoria, delivered an address regarding the success of the County Court's Judicial Settlement Conferences that are held in Serious Injury cases. The County Court of Victoria's mandatory court led conferencing program commenced on the 16th of January 2012, and since this time, Judicial Settlement Conferences have been held at the County Court in an attempt to reduce the delay that we are currently experiencing in obtaining a trial date for Serious Injury Applications. Judge Davis said that the aim of the Judicial Settlement Conferences is to encourage early settlement of serious injury applications and the more efficient disposition of cases which go to hearing . Judicial Settlement conferences are informal conferences that are held in a court room at the County Court, before a County Court judge. The legal representatives for each party involved in the matter attend together with the injured worker. At the Judicial Settlement Conference, the judge allows each party to present their case to the other party in an attempt to resolve the matter. In the event that the matter is not resolved at the Judicial Settlement Conference, the County Court judge who assists at this time is prohibited from hearing the subsequent Serious Injury Application. A review of the outcomes from the Judicial Settlement Conferences that took place between 16 January 2012 and 20 March 2012 found that:
- 21 matters were resolved within 0-7 days following the Judicial Settlement Conference.
- 5 matters resolved within 8-30 days following the Judicial Settlement Conference.
- 3 matters resolved within 31-60 days following the Judicial Settlement Conference.
- 69 matters remained unresolved.
Adviceline Injury Lawyers believe that the above figures are promising, as we are keen for Serious Injury cases to be settled without the need to go to Court wherever possible.