Many aspects of the Victorian TAC scheme are governed by a system of voluntary protocols (“the TAC protocols”). The TAC protocols provide the method by which TAC claims are managed, including the management of TAC common law claims.
Under the TAC common law protocols there is a requirement for the parties to explore the potential for a negotiated resolution of a common law claim (enter a process of negotiation) before any legal proceedings can be issued. In essence the parties are required to first attend a voluntary settlement conference.
The purpose of the voluntary settlement conference is to discuss common law damages and to try and resolve the common law claim by negotiation. The voluntary settlement conference, or common law conference, is an informal meeting involving the claimant, the claimant’s legal representatives and representatives from TAC, usually a Senior Manager. The claimant must attend the common law conference however, is not required to play any active role in the conference. The claimant need only be present at the conference to discuss and consider any settlement offers that may be made.
At voluntary conferences that we arrange, our clients remain in a separate room whilst we negotiate with the TAC representative. This often facilitates more open and frank discussions with the TAC. Any offers that are made by the TAC during the conference process are then conveyed to our client. At that time we will provide advice about the reasonableness of any offers made and how best to respond to the offer.
Hopefully, at the end of the conference process, which usually takes about two hours, a settlement can be achieved.
It is our practice to always advise our clients of the full amount of any offer made by the TAC and to then indicate precisely how much our client will receive/clear from the offer after the payment of legal costs. In addition to this, our clients are always fully informed of the implications of settling a common law claim. This includes advice about the continuing payment of medical expenses by the TAC, Centrelink implications, the tax implications of settlement, etc.