This time of year results in 2 different scenarios. There is no “third way”. Fee earners will face either:
1 – The Christmas winding down season; or
2 – Settlements before 31 December
1. Christmas countdown
This tends to be the old school relaxation time. Many hours are skived through late arrival, long boozy lunches, client meetings and early finishes.
2. Last minute settlements
These tend to reflect the increasing trend of the last 5 years.
As insurers and banks increase pressure, principally to “put to bed” long running matters so they fall into the financial year (subject to theirs ending 31/12), the final 3 weeks of December see parties resorting to a commercial approach.
Global offers raise their head more so than Part 36 offers, as people look to wrap up damages and costs. The game playing is sometimes fun when an opponent refuses to show the science behind their offer (“divvy it up however you want it”).
Hints and Tips
- Work on Christmas eve. Just the morning will do. 2 settlements in the morning is achievable
- Use the telephone
- The above is repeated for emphasis – do not mess around with letters or emails – pick up the phone!
- Make sure you have standing instructions from your client; do not be afraid to hassle them if you need to get a set figure to use
- If you cannot agree something there and then with your opponent, attempt to fix them with an “agreement in principle” to hold over while you track down a client
- Agree with your managing partner a list of files you intend to target and settle before year-end
- Make sure that you have a bottom line for costs on each file you want to settle in the event that a global offer is received (agree this with your partner and have a written record of this on file)
- Deliver good news by telephone to your client if you achieve a good result for them- you never know if they will send a nice bottle of something your way in the spirit of Christmas (you will not receive any January gifts!!)
Make sure the experts you frequently instruct bribe you with foodand drink in early December, to avoid this interfering with your year-end files
If you have not already carried out the above hints and tips, make this your Monday morning task.
Over and out.