Case Management Conference: The importance and purpose of a CMC in the UK courts to claim your compensation following an accident
UK solicitor explains what a case management conference is, where and when a CMC takes place and how to recover the expense of the legal fees of a solicitor to represent you in your claim for compensation following an accident or injury.
What is a case management conference in relation to a claim for personal injury, industrial disease or medical negligence?
A “case management conference”, which is often referred to as a CMC, is a stage in the litigation process for many different types of disputed claims.
Such claims will often include a claim for compensation following an alleged act of negligence, as in a personal injury claim (e.g. road traffic accident, work injury, public liability slip or trip compensation); industrial disease case (e.g. industrial deafness, occupational breathing disorder, vibration condition) or medical negligence action (hospital negligence, GP error, dental mistakes).
A case management conference is a court hearing in which the Claimant and Defendant appear before a judge, so that the judge can set out the next steps that are required to ready the claim for trial. these steps are known as “Directions”.
Very importantly – the judge will give a time deadline for each step. The time periods must be adhered to by both the Claimant and Defendant – failure to do so will result in a default.
If a party is found to be in default of a court Direction the consequences include:
1. Some of your vital evidence might be excluded at trial.
2. Your Claim or the Defence could be struck out.
3. Cost penalties could be imposed against the defaulting party.
Be careful – even if the Claimant and Defendant agree a delay in the timetable set out by the court at the CMC – a letter must be sent to the court indicating that such agreement has been made and what that agreement is.
At what stage of your claim does a Case management Conference take place?
A CMC takes place after you have “issued a claim” at court and the defendant has “filed a Defence”.
The phrase “issue a claim” simply means that you have sent to the court the paperwork necessary to start your claim and the court has “stamped” or “sealed” this paperwork to acknowledge that your claim has been received and the date it has been received.
After this stage – the Claimant or the court (at the Claimant’s request) “serves” or sends the stamped paperwork to the Defendant.
The Defendant thereafter has a short time period to reply – either admitting responsibility for the claim or “filing a Defence”.
“Filing a Defence” simply means the defendant sends a denial of responsibility to pay the Claim to the court. On receipt of a Defence – the court will stamp (or seal) the Defence document and send a copy to the Claimant.
The court will then allocate the matter to a track and schedule a Case Management Conference to decide the next steps that are required.
Where does a case management conference take place?
A case management conference is heard by a “judge in chambers”.
A “judge in chambers” is a phrase, which simply means the hearing takes place before a judge in an informal type of court room.
This court room or “Chambers” is a small court room with a large central table – the judge sits at the head of the table with the Claimant and Defendant facing each other to the side of the judge.
If you are represented by a solicitor – your solicitor will attend on your behalf. You will only be required to attend at the trial, which is the final hearing to decide the outcome of your claim.
This court hearing can take place by way of telephone – the judge sits in the court room and the Claimant and Defendant are connected to the judge from their office by a conference telephone call, which allows all the parties to hear what the judge and the other parties are saying at the same time.
Do you need a solicitor to represent you at a CMC?
“Yes” – if you are not legally trained it is very difficult for you to contemplate the implications and consequences of doing your own case management conference.
Remember if you are making an accident claim – the majority of the cost of employing the services of a specialist solicitor can be charged to the person at fault for your accident on top of your claim for compensation.
Case Management Conference Summary
In this article we have set out the importance of a case management conference in a personal injury claim for compensation and why it is essential you use a solicitor to represent your interests at a CMC.
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