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Do I really need a solicitor?

12.11.2018

If you find yourself in a dispute with someone and you are considering taking them to court, or if someone is taking you to court, you may ask yourself the question. Do I need a solicitor?

Many people think that going it alone is a good option, how hard can it be after all?

While it is possible to represent yourself in court there are some important considerations you should take into account before making this decision to go it alone.

Do you understand what it takes to be compliant?

In the recent case of Barton v Wright Hassall LLP it is clear that the court/Judges are not willing to be lenient on upholding the rule of law even when dealing with people representing themselves (litigants in person) – they expect people to be aware of the law, the rules and follow them; ignorance is definitely no defence.

In the case of Barton v Wright Hassall LLP the Claimant, who did not have a lawyer and represented himself, sent important paperwork to the other side by email. However, according to the relevant Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) the other side have to confirm they would accept papers by email; it cannot be assumed. As the other side had not said they would accept the papers by email the papers were not properly “served” and accordingly his claim was time barred and thrown out.

The Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s verdict and said that litigants in person should not have a lower standard of compliance with the rules or orders of the court. The overriding objective of the CPR requires the court to enforce compliance of the rules and law and they do not distinguish between represented and unrepresented parties. The consequences of failing to do so could be very serious.

Other considerations

In a recent claim (in which we were instructed) the claimant, who was representing himself, failed to pay the hearing fee, which was in breach of a court order, and accordingly his claim was struck out. The claimant sought to re-instate his claim and the court rejected this. The fact that the claimant was a litigant in person was not a reason that he should be granted relief, and allowed to restore his claim. The consequences of his failure to comply with a court order were therefore serious as he was unable to pursue his claim.

It is important to get your case in good order right from the beginning and ensure you comply with the rules and law which is relevant to your specific case. It is not an easy thing to do and the consequences of not complying could mean your claim will be struck out and there are potential cost penalties. That is why we recommend you instruct a lawyer from the outset who can properly guide you through the process, adhere to the law and provide you expert advice from start to finish.

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