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No favourable treatment for litigants in person

In a recent case at the High Court, the judge rejected an application from the defendant to move the date of the trial set against them. The defendants in the dispute had decided to represent themselves as ‘litigants in person’ for much of the case to that point although they had taken representation to the hearing.

The application had been made a few weeks before the trial began as the defendants said they needed extra time to address amendments to the claimants’ particulars of claim. The defendants also argued that they needed further time to prepare an expert’s report and for disclosure since they had not had the benefit of legal advice on disclosure.

The judge decided that these weren’t good enough reasons to give the defendants the extra time they asked for, even though he conceded that "some slack" needed to be cut for litigants in person and he appreciated that the defendants had faced difficulties. Although they might suffer prejudice by not having an expert's report for the trial, the defendants had placed themselves in this situation by failing to act quickly enough over a long period of time.

The decision acts as a reminder that the Court may be sympathetic to litigants in person, but they will not be treated favourably because of it. Instead the Court will still make a decision based on certain principles. The best advice for any business facing a dispute is to gain legal representation as soon as possible. For more information or to see how we can help you please contact Sarah Hickey at Lawson-West on 0116 212 1000.

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