RAF and Mediation Advocacy

12 October 2021

Danie Weideman is an experienced defendant litigator with over 30 years on RAF litigation.  He has been closely involved as a RAF attorney, has seen the recent changes being brought about at the RAF, has trained as a mediator, and participated in the recent RAF mediation pilot.  He will be one of the trainers on the RAF Mediation Advocacy course on 12 November 2021. 

Danie writes:

The Road Accident Fund pays out annually, in one form or another, over R40 billion. Take a moment, let that figure sink in. It is a lot of money! Naturally, as large sums of money are involved, an industry arose around the payment of damages, due to injured individuals, consisting of attorneys, experts, and others. Delays in settlement of claims and the risk of not being able to recover costs have led to a deluge of litigation against the RAF.

Despite the significant amounts received via the fuel levy the RAF remains in debt and the current management team had developed a five-year turnaround strategy. This strategy includes trying to reduce the time period within which claims are settled and the amount of litigation that it is embroiled in. A year ago the RAF had more than 190 000 High Court cases pending, country-wide.

One of the most important instruments that it is anticipated it will use for this purpose is mediation. To this end, the RAF had partnered with SAMLA and launched a pilot project consisting of 100 mediations which SAMLA accredited mediators, of which l am one, do pro bono. The aim of the project is to train RAF personnel to do mediations and to gather statistical data to quantify the benefits of mediation. The project is currently in its third of four segments and the data from the first 50 mediations is staggering. If these figures are projected over the bulk of RAF litigation then literally billions of rand in wasted legal costs will be saved and matters will be finalised much quicker.

Given the fact that the RAF is the largest litigator in the country, many of the Courts Practice Directives were written specifically to cater for the RAF. It will be no different with mediation.

From the Pilot project, it is clear that RAF mediations will differ from ordinary commercial or other types of delictual mediations, and practitioners that practice in the RAF sphere, or want to do so, need to take cognisance of what the likely process will be. This course will take you through the process as it is playing out in the Pilot Project, from the initial contact to the Medical Pre-Mediation Meeting, the Agreement to Mediate, and possible Settlement Agreements. RAF litigation had always been sui generis and one should anticipate that its mediations will equally be specific to itself.

It must be anticipated that the RAF will require standardised documentation in the mediation process and may well want to control who may act as mediators in their matters. There is currently work being done to set out criteria that a mediator will have to comply with before being able to go on the list of approved RAF mediators and the choice of mediators may well be restricted to such a list.

Come and learn how to approach RAF mediation as a plaintiff or defendant attorney. For the outline of the course look HERE

Join the course by signing up HERE

- Danie Weideman