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  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.