Friday, April 20, 2012

In Practice: Dealing with litigants in person

Unfortunately, these days it seems that it's not sufficient simply to apply common sense to any given situation. Adding to the ever-growing body of guidance upon every eventuality, the Law Society yesterday published a practice note for dealing with litigants in person.

The practice note is intended to be for "all solicitors who may need to deal with litigants in person (LiPs) as part of their work", which means pretty well all solicitors who deal with litigation at all, especially once LASPO comes in.

In section 2 the practice note helpfully explains exactly what a LiP is, for the benefit of anyone who may be unsure, and where one might be encountered.

Section 3 basically reminds solicitors not to take 'unfair advantage' of LiPs, and to keep calm when responding to emotive correspondence and telephone calls from them.

Section 4 covers the solicitor's duty to the court when there is a LiP on the other side, such as assisting in explaining procedure to the LiP and preparing bundles, written arguments and draft orders (there seems to be an erroneous sentence at the beginning of section 4, mentioning interest for late payments on qualifying debts). The section goes on to mention the specific issues that may crop up in employment tribunals (section 4.3.1) and family law matters (section 4,3.2).

Section 5 covers dealings with persistent unmeritorious claims/vexatious litigants.

For information, paragraph 6 outlines some of the resources available to LiPs, including McKenzie friends and the CAB.

The practice note may be found here.

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UPDATE: The erroneous sentence at the beginning of section 4 has now been removed.

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