28/05/24

Litigants in Person | The Benefits of Legal Representation

Litigants in Person | The Benefits of Legal Representation
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Those intending to conduct their own civil litigation and represent themselves at a Court Hearing (‘litigants in person’) should be extremely alert to the Rule in Barton v Wright Hassall LLP which states that litigants in person should not be given extra consideration when complying with Procedural Rules.

This ruling is contrary to the belief of many individuals who are pursuing, or are about to pursue, their civil claims without legal representation, that they should be treated with flexibility given their inexperience compared with the legal practitioners against whom they will be confronted in court.

With the ever-increasing frequency of appearances by litigants in person in Civil Courts, the consequences of not being legally represented deserves consideration.

Stuart Southall of KANGS explores the situation.

The General Position

The procedures, which are strictly enforced by the Civil Courts, are set out in great detail in the Civil Procedure Rules 1998. These can be accessed online but the content is lengthy, detailed, and technical to the extent that legal arguments are frequently conducted in court between eminent barristers simply to ascertain exactly how a particular aspect should be applied.

Whilst the Court has an obligation to ensure that all cases are dealt with fairly, this does not extend to awarding greater tolerance for litigants in person, even when faced with an experienced lawyer representing the opposing party.

Litigants in person are expected to make themselves familiar with the Rules of Procedure and Practice and to represent themselves without disruption to the court process. However, when appropriate, allowances may be made to help them comply with requirements, such as Orders for Directions.

The Rule in Barton v Wright Hassall LLP

The Supreme Court stated:

‘Unless the rules and practice directions are particularly inaccessible or obscure, it is reasonable to expect a litigant in person to familiarise himself with the rules which apply to any step which he is about to take.’

In this case, Barton was a litigant in person and had failed to serve his claim form on Wright Hassall LLP in accordance with the rules set out in the Civil Procedure Rules 1998.

He endeavoured to effect service by email, without first obtaining their confirmation that they were prepared to accept service in this manner. It is accepted that this was not good service. As a result, the claim form expired whilst still unserved.

Since this ruling, many cases have followed the precedent, resulting in litigants in person facing sanctions for non-compliance.

How Can We Assist?

It is indisputable that the cost of civil litigation has always been relatively expensive, simply by virtue of the substantial amount of time it takes to thoroughly prepare a client’s case for a Hearing.

Such preparation is detailed, and it is essential that all Procedural Rules are understood and followed which will avoid the sort of Costs Sanctions that litigants in person are prone to incur.

At KANGS, we are always extremely conscious about the incurrence of substantial fees when providing legal representation to our clients. Our transparent approach incorporates reporting as a matter proceeds and considering the continuing viability of each claim as it progresses.

Consideration of other means of disposal, such as Alternative Dispute Resolution, will always form part of our considerations.

The Team at KANGS provides comprehensive and experienced guidance to everyone faced with the need to seek legal representation through any civil process. Please do not hesitate to contact us using the details below:

Tel:       0333 370 4333

Email: info@kangssolicitors.co.uk

We provide initial no obligation discussion at our three offices in London, Birmingham, and Manchester. Alternatively, discussions can be held through live conferencing or telephone.

Tim Thompson

Tim Thompson
Partner

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Nazaqat Maqsoom

Naz Maqsoom
Associate

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