A SOLICITOR with Barry-based law firm Robertsons Solicitors will attend a prestigious gala evening in Westminster today, on March 20.

Chris Barber is one of the key contributors to this year’s Parliamentary Review, the magazine which informs more than 500,000 policy leaders about best practice and the latest innovations in UK industry and business.

The gala will feature contributors and high-profile figures from the world of politics, sport, and the media.

Mr Barber wrote an article for the latest edition of the independent magazine covering Wales and which is focused on the law and justice.

In it, he highlights the growing importance of mediation to settle legal disputes, reducing costs to the parties involved and freeing up court time.

He wrote: “Mediation has experienced a rapid growth in popularity within the legal sector over the past few years and it is an area that we are actively expanding into.

“Mediation offers a cost effective and less time-consuming alternative to litigation and removes the stress and hassle of going to court.”

He added: “The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution conducted an audit in 2018 showing the growth of mediation as a means of conflict resolution, which accounted for 12,000 mediation cases in the UK (up 20 per cent from 2016).

“The audit stated that £11.5 billion claims were mediated in the last year which, in turn, saved UK businesses £3 billion in the potential legal fees associated with a court date. Civil Justice Statistics show that between January and March 2018 there was also a decrease of four per cent in claims taken to court.”

Robertsons Solicitors established its mediation arm, Robertsons Mediation, in 2018.

The firm says it has seen rapid growth in the area.

Mr Barber also warns of the potential for falling standards because of fixed fees for personal injury claims, leading to “a trend of conveyor-belt firms, who are completing as many cases as quickly as possible in order to remain profitable.”

He urged industry regulators to act over the trend.

Mr Barber touches on the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and predicts an increasingly competitive marketplace for legal services as fees become transparent, though he says firms such as Robertsons Solicitors will thrive because of their strong reputation and personal service.

He added: “While regulation will create challenges, it should also raise standards and allow the best firms to benefit.”

Robertsons Solicitors was chosen for the Review because of its strong community links in Barry and Cardiff, including its support for local charities, and its ambitious expansion plans.

Each edition of the Parliamentary Review is sent to more than 500,000 policy makers across the UK, including politicians and business leaders, and its articles celebrate success, highlight best practice, and analyse issues facing the sector.

Its forward this year is written by the prime minister, Theresa May.

The Parliamentary Review Annual Gala is also staged at the Palace of Westminster for the magazine’s launch involving contributors, peers, ministers, other senior politicians, journalists, and sports people.

Last year’s guests included former England footballer Frank Lampard, former Wales rugby captain Sam Warburton, TV and radio presenter Jeremy Vine, political journalist Andrew Neil, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, and the secretary of state for the environment, food, and rural affairs, Michael Gove.

It was hosted by Sir Eric Pickles, the former cabinet member who is the Chairman of the Review.