Bournemouth & District Law Society’s new President Simon Steele-Williams is urging greater collaboration between lawyers for the benefit of their clients.
Mr Steele-Williams - a litigation solicitor and Partner at Dorset-based Coles Miller - is encouraging lawyers to work together more closely to help save clients’ time and money.
Alternative dispute resolution, mediation and collaborative law were very much “in the spirit of the age” and should be promoted more widely to the public, he said.
“Litigation - going to court - should always be the last resort, not the first. The approach of the lawyer should be to try to settle whenever possible. It is in the best interests of the client,” he added.
Court hearings could be expensive, time consuming and stressful for clients - whereas alternative dispute resolution, mediation and collaborative law were much less confrontational, he said.
Recent months have seen a number of legal changes designed to reduce the number of cases going through the UK’s courts and tribunals.
From May 6 2014, employees with a grievance against their employer must first contact the conciliation service ACAS before making a claim to the Employment Tribunals.
Under the new legislation, if conciliation goes ahead, the two sides in the dispute are then given up to one month in which to resolve their differences.
Mediation is already playing a much greater role in family law cases following new rules which came into force on April 22 2014.
The new rules stipulate that separating couples - instead of simply going straight to court - should first attend Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) to learn about the benefits of the process.
Family law is also one of the areas most associated with collaborative law. Under this system, the couple commits not to go to court. Their lawyers work together to help them reach an agreement.
Coles Miller Solicitors LLP offers mediation, collaborative law and alternative dispute resolution as part of its wide range of legal services.
Its lawyers assist clients with litigation (including landlord and tenant disputes, property and boundary disputes); company commercial; intellectual property law; employment law; family law; residential and commercial conveyancing; wills (including contested probate); trusts; residential leasehold property; planning; marine law and debt recovery.
Much of its work is in the central South but the firm acts for clients from all over the country in cases involving clinical negligence, personal injury and interest rate swaps litigation.
Coles Miller has 15 Partners and 115 staff. They are based at five offices in Bournemouth, Poole, Broadstone, Charminster and Wimborne.
For more information, contact Coles Miller LLP on 01202 673011.