Help for litigants in person with relief from sanctions should be given only ‘at the margins’

PI_Frances_LawleyBy Frances Lawley

Courts frequently look more favourably on litigants in person when it comes to considering relief from sanctions. The Court of Appeal in Nata Lee Ltd v Abid & Anor [2014] EWCA Civ 1652 has confirmed that such treatment should be confined to the ‘margins’.

The case concerned a boundary dispute and the Appellant was represented by a company director and the Respondent by both leading and junior counsel. The Appellant’s application to change expert had been dismissed by the trial judge as it had been made too late and insufficient reasons had been given. This decision was overturned on appeal however Briggs LJ, giving the sole judgment with which Underhill and Moore-Bick LJJ agreed, said (at paragraph 53):

I make it clear at the outset that, in my view, the fact that a party (whether an individual or a corporate body) is not professionally represented is not of itself a reason for the disapplication of rules, orders and directions, or for the disapplication of that part of the overriding objective which now places great value on the requirement that they be obeyed by litigants. In short, the CPR do not, at least at present, make specific or separate provision for litigants in person. There may be cases in which the fact that a party is a litigant in person has some consequence in the determination of applications for relief from sanctions, but this is likely to operate at the margins.

This passage should be at the forefront of the minds of represented parties when dealing with applications involving litigants in person.

Advertisements

5 comments

  1. […] My colleague Frances Lawley writes that Help for Litigants in Person with Relief from Sanctions shoudl be given only “at the margins&#… […]

  2. […] Frances Lawley looked at the treatment of litigants in person when it comes to relief from sanctions in Help for litigants in person with relief from sanctions should be given ‘only at the margins&#… […]

  3. […] In my January blog post for the Zenith Chambers Personal Injury blog I covered  the case of Nata Lee Ltd v Abid & Anor [2014] EWCA Civ 1652 and the Court of Appeal’s approach in that case to the appropriate level of assistance to give to litigants in person. […]

  4. […] In my January blog post for the Zenith Chambers Personal Injury blog I covered the case of Nata Lee Ltd v Abid & Anor [2014] EWCA Civ 1652 and the Court of Appeal’s approach in that case to the appropriate level of assistance to give to litigants in person. […]

  5. […] Lawley looked at the treatment of litigants in person when it comes to relief from sanctions in Help for litigants in person with relief from sanctions should be given ‘only at the margins’  (January […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: