Litigant in Person - Should I represent myself in court?

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02 October, 2023

Sam King
Solicitor, Commercial Litigation

If you are an individual or a corporate entity and you bring forward court action against another party, or you are a defendant in a court action brought about by another party and you do not have or seek out legal representation - you are what is known as a "litigant in person".

If you are contemplating bringing action in the court as a litigant in person, it is safe to assume you are doing so because you are strong in your belief of the to the merits of your claim or defence. Litigants in persons however must be aware of procedural elements of the court process that are not related to the merits of their matter. There are repercussions for litigants in persons for falling foul of the same.

The procedural rules around court proceedings are largely contained within The Civil Procedure Rules 1998 and are supplemented by case law. The courts will expect litigants in persons to be familiar with the relevant rules, statutes and case law which govern the litigation process and will not give litigants in persons any leeway for not being legally qualified. This was underlined in the Supreme Court case Barton v Wright Hassall LLP (2018). In this case, the Supreme Court's decision was clear - a litigant in person will not be held to a lower standard than a solicitor or barrister and will not be excused of the consequences of not adhering to the Procedure rules. This principle was reaffirmed in a case earlier this year, Muhammad v Daily The News International & Ors (2023), in which the Claimant litigant in person's claim was struck out on the basis that it was not properly drafted in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules. The Claimant, for falling foul of these provisions, was ordered to pay the legal costs of the Defendant of £20,000.

This is why it is important parties to seek legal representation and have an expert guide them through the court process. The Civil Procedure Rules are lengthy, at times convoluted, and are difficult for a layperson to navigate. On top of this, they are also often supplemented by case law which would be difficult for a litigant in person to research.

At Forbes, we offer a well-rounded service that deals with all procedural aspects of the court process, whilst providing you advice pertaining to your claim.

For more information contact Sam King in our Business Dispute Resolution department via email or phone on 01772 220391. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Business Dispute Resolution department here

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