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Know your onions

View profile for David Rogerson
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The recent case of Barton v Wright Hassall [2018] UKSC 12 raised two interesting issues, namely could ineffective service of proceedings be validated under the Court rules and are litigants in person to be given extra leeway if they make a mistake, as they do not have the benefit of professional representation?

The Claimant wished to sue his former solicitors for alleged professional negligence. He waited until Limitation was just about to expire before issuing and then waited again until the last day before dispatching his claim form by email upon those representing the Defendant. They had never intimated in writing that they were prepared to accept service by that medium although the respective parties had communicated with one another in that way.

The Supreme Court divided 3-2, with the majority going against the Claimant. The view was that the Court Rules were neither obscure nor inaccessible. Furthermore, the majority also considered the Claimant inflicted self-harm by waiting until the claim form was about to lapse and, in circumstances where proceedings were issued at the very end of limitation, he had courted disaster. To forgive would prejudice the Defendant who had accrued an unanswerable limitation defence.

So just because you act in person, does not excuse you from knowing the Court Rules. But who really is comfortable in litigating disputes without some experienced and professional advice? Indeed, if your solicitors get it wrong  and plenty do, you have a claim against them!

Tread carefully.

Seek specialist advice by contacting David Rogerson at Chattertons 01636 675563 or