What is a litigation friend?
Posted on 23rd January 2020
In a time of intense litigation, and the British court system apparently crammed to the rafters with people acting as Litigant in Person, we ask, what is a Litigation Friend and what can they do?
Litigation friend is the legal term used to describe an individual that it acting on behalf of somebody else during a Court case or application. Litigation friends can be appointed when a party does not have the mental capacity to be able to act on their own, or when a party is under 18 years old. Speaking from experience, as a Personal Injury Solicitor in Lancaster, the writer often liaises with litigation friends when for example, one of the injured parties in a road traffic accident, instructs our offices (or indeed, anyone who has suffered a personal injury, and is under the age of 18 years).
Litigation Friends can either be a close family member, a parent (in cases where one of the parties is under the age of 18) a trusted friend, an attorney, a solicitor, a professional advocate, or a Court of protection deputy. If you are struggling to appoint a ligation friend to act on your behalf then an application can be made to the Court asking them to appoint a professional for you. As with most things, however, this would incur costs for the appointed professional’s fees.
Let’s say, for example, you were choosing to divorce your spouse; in most divorces both parties would need to consent to the divorce by submitting their signature on the Acknowledgement of Service form.
However, if your spouse lacked mental capacity, then it could be argued that whilst they did sign, they were unable to understand what they were actually agreeing to, and this could, hypothetically, open up a myriad of legal wrangles, and arguments, in the future (are you divorced or not?). In the instance that your spouse lacked mental capacity then they would be advised to appoint a ligation friend to act on their behalf. The appointed party would then be responsible for directing the legal proceeding on your spouse’s behalf. This would include talking the matter through with the spouse where possible, acting on their best interest, and speaking to legal representatives on their behalf. If they were ordered by the Court to pay the other party any money then the Ligation Friend would be responsible for ensuring the funds are pay, note they would not be responsible for paying it themselves, merely responsible for ensuring its paid by the party they represent.
If a Ligation Friend is appointed then the Court will assess whether it believes they are suitable to act, for example that the appointed parties’ interests do not conflict with the person they are representing, and they are making decision for the party they represent in a fair and just way. If the Court feel they are not suitable then they can reject them as a Ligation Friend.
The role of a ligation friend comes to an end when the case has come to an end, or if the party they are acting for regains mental capacity, should this be the case then medical evidence will have to be submitted to the Court. If you are appointed as a ligation friend for a party under the age of 18 then your role would come to an end once they turn 18 or if an application is made by them to request you are removed from the role.
As your local Lancaster solicitors, we have taken on many files in which a parent or a friend is appointed to act on behalf of another person, so if you wish to discuss a matter that you believe requires a ligation friend, or just want some further advise on the same then do not hesitate to contact us on 01524 581306.
MG Legal - Your Local Solicitors
Tagged as: Accident Injury Solicitors, Personal Injury Solicitors, Solicitors in Lancaster, Your Local Solicitors
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