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Thinking of having your day in court without legal representation? Think again!

Those representing themselves in court are known as litigants in person. This is an ever increasing term heard in litigation as the government has tightened its purse strings on legal aid funding.

A recent Supreme Court decision has held that litigants in person will not be given any special treatment.

A plea was heard in the Supreme Court last week for a litigant in person to be given special dispensation in navigating the civil procedure rules. The case centred around a litigant in person emailing a claim form by way of service of the claim form which is against the civil procedure rules unless permission is sought.

The point the Court was making in their ruling is that rules must stand and apply equally to all parties. The litigant in person wanted to serve the defendant’s solicitors with the claim form and without obtaining any prior indication that they would accept service by way of email, this was deemed unserved. The Court held that it was not enough to say that the mode of service had successfully brought the claim form to the defendant’s solicitor’s attention.

Whilst the Courts do show leniency to litigants in person in case management decisions and in the conduct in hearings a lower standard of observing the rules and orders of the court could not be justified.

There was dissension amongst the Supreme Court judges with the decision against the litigant in person which indicates that there is a clear attempt to provide litigants in person with as much leeway as possible especially as many are representing themselves as they have no other choice.

For advice on Litigation matters please contact Chris Sykes, Head of Litigation.