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AI and Robots in Personal Injury Claims? - Tim Wallis, Trust Mediation & FOIL

11/03/19. News that a ‘robot mediator’ has been used to settle a dispute in the court system, for what is believed to be the first time, was reported in Legal Futures recently. [1] Is this for real? Will

lawyers and insurers use robots to settle routine personal injury claims?

My answer is simple. Yes.

Sitting by my Cumbrian fireside on a recent evening winter evening I hooked up by video link to Aucklan, logged in to Smartsettle and participated in a simulated online negotiation about a pi claim as part of a live presentation at an International Online Dispute Resolution.

I played the role of claimant’s solicitor negotiating with an insurance claims handler in a pi motor claim where liability was in dispute. We made bids, with succinct reasons, using the online visual blind bidding process and settled the claim in a little over half an hour. After a Q and A session with the audience in New Zealand I made up the fire and poured myself a dram. All easy.

So, when I hear that technology will never be up to dealing with negotiation, I smile. It’s the people that need to catch up, not the IT.

Smartsettle (I call it an online system, others call it a robot) enables negotiators in a money claim to make two different kinds of bid: one that the other side can see (an open bid) and one that they cannot (a blind bid). The system sees all the bids. Settlement can be reached by the open bids coinciding, by the blind bids coinciding or overlapping, or by the blind bids reaching a point where they are less than £X apart.

The system can be programmed with rules (or algorithms) so that it performs in a certain way. For example, when bids are only £X apart, instead of slitting the difference the party that has opened the bidding closest to the final settlement figure can be rewarded by the difference being split in her favour.

Upon settlement being reached the system whizzes off a contractually binding settlement agreement to both parties.

One of the advantages of this system is that enables a party to secretly test out whether settlement may be possible at or near a particular figure without having to disclose that he would be prepared to go that far.

The neutral site allows negotiators to stay in control of a Visual Blind Bidding2 process that is designed to identify and reward good negotiating behaviour and quickly produce fair and efficient outcomes.

Tim Wallis, Mediator and solicitor with Trust Mediation and other mediation providers, and a member of FOIL’s ADR Sector Focus Team