Do opposing solicitors have to help litigants in person?

Judith Thompson

In a recent case, a judge has confirmed that it is not up to one party to a claim to point out any errors which the other may have made.

In the case in question, a firm of solicitors failed to serve claim form upon another firm of solicitors, within the time limits for doing so. An argument was raised that this should have been flagged up by the solicitors who hadn't received the claim form. However this was robustly rejected by the judge.

This case has particular implications for litigants in person, that is, people who deal with their own claims in court rather than instructing solicitors. Without any legal training, it is quite possible but litigants in person could unwittingly make mistakes that could harm or even destroy their prospects of success. The recent decision highlighted above, suggests that even if there are solicitors acting on the other side, they would have no duty to advise the litigant in person about any errors they had made.

Judith Thompson, litigation partner at Samuels solicitors in Devon, says: "this decision may seem very harsh, but the judge considered arguments were made that unfair advantage was taken of a simple mistake, and rejected that proposition. This case highlights how important it is to take expert legal advice, at the very least on how a claim ought to be dealt with procedurally, at an early stage."

Samuels Solicitors has a wealth of experience assisting clients with litigation matters. We help clients with all aspects of claims, from advising on procedural steps that need to be taken, as well as going on the court's record and handling the whole case.

In certain cases, we are able to act for clients on a conditional (no win no fee) basis, but even where this is not possible, we are always willing to consider some sort of flexible funding arrangement with clients, to assist them with paying legal fees.

Contact us today for no obligation discussion about how we can help.