TAC settlement conferences
A TAC settlement conference typically refers to a conference that occurs after the lodgement of a TAC serious injury application and where a serious injury certificate has been obtained.
It involves the parties getting together to try and settle a common law damages claim.
What happens at a TAC settlement conference?
Most people who reach the point of a settlement conference will have a lawyer who is representing them.
Your lawyer should let you know that a conference is going to be held, usually a few weeks before the conference is to occur.
Prior to the conference commencing, your lawyer (and possibly barrister) will discuss the process with you.
The settlement conference may occur in your lawyers office, in your barristers chambers (their office), or at another location, usually in Melbourne.
Your representatives will discuss your matter with you and probably ask you some further questions.
They will also probably also seek some instructions from you in relation to an offer to put to the other side.
Unlike a mediation, in a settlement conference there will not be an independent third party present to assist the discussions.
Your lawyers will then go into a room with the TAC‘s lawyer (or lawyers) and discuss the matter.
In most cases you will not need to enter the room where the parties negotiate your matter. However in some cases your lawyer may want the representatives from the TAC to meet you.
Once the discussions have taken place your representatives will come back into the room in which you are in and discuss the matter with you.
They will then try and negotiate the matter with TAC which may involve the parties going backwards and forwards between each of the rooms.
The matter may take only half an hour or so, or it could take several hours.
If the matter resolves at the conference you’ll probably be asked to sign some paperwork by your lawyer on the day.
If not on the day, then in the next few days after the conference.
These documents confirm the agreement to settlement the matter in writing.
Generally speaking, once the matter has resolved you’ll then be entitled to payment of your your settlement monies within about four weeks.
When does a TAC settlement conference occur?
A TAC settlement conference occurs after you’ve been provided with a serious injury certificate.
So once you’ve lodged the TAC serious injury application, the TAC is required to either say yes or no to the question of whether you have a serious injury from the accident.
If say you do have a serious injury, then you’ll go straight to a settlement conference.
This will usually occur, depending upon availability of the parties, within a few weeks after being awarded a serious injury certificate.
If however the TAC opine that you do not have a serious injury then if you want to pursue the matter you’ll need to go before a Judge of the County Court who will then need to make a decision as to whether towards you with a serious injury certificate or not.
If the Judge does award you with a serious injury certificate then you will progress to the settlement conference as you would have if you had been awarded a serious injury certificate by the TAC immediately after the lodgement of your serious injury application.
What can I do to prepare for the settlement conference?
This really depends upon the main issues that might be in dispute.
And for this reason, you should be directed by your representatives as to what you might be able to do to assist.
For example, your lawyer may be waiting on medical material from your general practitioner and it might help for you to mention this to your GP at an appointment.
Or it could mean that you provide some pay material to your lawyer.
Realistically though, in most instances your lawyer should’ve prepared everything well before the settlement conference so there is likely won’t be much that you can do prior to the conference but may assist.
It would however be a good idea to make a list of any medication that you are taking and write down the names of any doctors that you are seeing so you can pass this on to your representatives.
If your work has changed since you spoke to your lawyer or barrister, then you should ensure to let them know.
Whether that means doing a different job with a different employer, or working a different role with your employer, or a change in your hours or earnings.
A settlement conference will occur in relation to a common law claim once you have lodged a serious injury application and obtained a serious injury certificate.