Robert J Koch specialises in claims for compensation/damages for personal injury and death and problems relating to the division of deceased estates.
We offer two report formats
Trial Report: This follows the pattern generally used by actuaries with full explanations and is intended for presentation in court.
Certificate of Value: This is a short telegram-style report which was introduced in 1988 at the request of the RAF and promoted by them with a view to reducing the high cost of actuarial advice. For professional reasons, I may not disclose the relative costs of the two formats but these can be obtained by telephoning Cape Town (+27 21 462 4160). Suffice it to say that certificate format is substantially cheaper than a trial report. I emphasise that the lower cost of a certificate of value does not imply a reduction in the quality of the calculations or the interpretation of the evidence.
When instructing me please make it clear whether you require a trial report or a certificate of value.
Unless otherwise instructed I will assume that I should assess the matter with a view to achieving an early settlement. This means that, the evidence permitting, I will express an opinion on general contingencies and the reasonableness of expenses claimed. For claimants, I will automatically prepare a second set of results which exclude the effect of general contingencies. Please give express instructions should you wish me to deviate from this approach.
Mediation and Conflict of Interest
A good deal of my work takes the form of mediation in the sense of facilitating an early settlement. This means full disclosure by both sides as regards quantum. It means that I communicate freely with both claimant and defendant but do not have the capacity to bind either party to any agreement. In most instances I am retained by both claimant and defendant right through a trial. Due to my neutral status as an expert I am not able to accept a mandate to negotiate a settlement.
I am asked from time to time to prepare legal opinions on the assessment of damages. In my reports I indicate the relevant legal authority, when this seems appropriate, to explain why I have used a certain approach. I retain in my offices a full set of South African law reports and have copies of most of the important textbooks and articles and judgments, both local and overseas.
GENERAL DAMAGES: I prepare opinions on awards for general damages for pain and suffering and loss of the amenities of life. This is a legal opinion and not an actuarial service so I require an explicit request in this regard.
Assessments: Deceased Estates
I prepare assessments for claims for maintenance against deceased estates by widows and children. These claims are based on the needs of the claimant and what the estate can afford. The earnings of the deceased are, strictly speaking, not relevant, but can provide a useful guide. The Assessment of Damages Act 9 of 1969 does not apply to such claims so I need evidence of all life insurances and pension benefits because these are deductible items.
Deferment of payment of fees
Deferment of payment of fees: This will be agreed for approved clients subject to the signing of my fees payment contract available elsewhere on this website. This provides, inter alia, for payment of my fees on finalisation or the expiry of 3 years, whichever is the earlier. For claimants, there is a 25% discount if payment is made within 90 days. For defendants, the RAF and Government, the 25% discount is only available if payment is made within 30 days. All work is done subject to the condition that the instructing attorney guarantees my fee regardless of the outcome of the matter. Prescription does not start to run until I have been notified of "finalisation" in writing. In the event that the matter is taken over by another attorney my fee immediately becomes due and payable by the original attorney, unless the taking-over attorney confirms in writing that he assumes personal liability for the outstanding fees on the same terms and conditions.
"Finalised" means the time when the amount of compensation to be paid has been determined by agreement or by order of Court or the matter has been abandoned. It does not mean "after payment of compensation" or "after taxation". I am not prepared to reduce my fees because a reduced amount has been allowed on taxation, that is a matter between claimant and defendant.
Regular updates of claim values
Most claim values become outdated due to the effects of inflation and the need to discount to a later settlement date. Attorneys who are actively seeking finalisation of claims should thus request revised values at intervals of about 2 years, and even less for claims with a large future loss component. In the event that an attorney does not request update calculations, I reserve the right to conclude that the matter is not capable of finalisation and to demand immediate payment of my fee.
I file claims according to the name of the person injured or killed. Every effort is made to avoid duplicated assessments when more than one attorney sends instructions for the same claim. Due to differences in the spelling of a victim's name and errors in dates my system does occasionally fail.