Judge Tolerant of Litigant in Person's Errors

Judith Thompson

Proceedings were brought against four defendants including a litigant in person and her company. She did not attend a hearing as she was unwell, and judgment was entered against all of the defendants. 

The litigant in person appealed against the order which had been made. She said that neither she nor her company should have been defendants in the proceedings. 

However, the litigant in person realised shortly before the appeal was due to be heard, that she had only sought permission to appeal on her own behalf, and not on behalf of her company. 

She made the application for permission to appeal on behalf of her company at the appeal hearing. In usual circumstances, this would have been far too late. 

The Court of Appeal granted permission for the company's appeal notice to be filed late. The court found that although the delay was serious and significant, the litigant in person had not understood that a separate appeal was required for the company. 

The Court felt that this case was "truly exceptional" and the decision is certainly against the current trend to give little leniency to litigants in person. 

The litigant in person had not deliberately failed to comply with an order or rule but had simply misunderstood the technicalities of the procedure for appealing. 

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